Southeast Asia: The Emerging Digital Hub and Data Breach Hotspot

Southeast Asia is becoming a major digital hub. This rapid transformation is fuelled by economic initiatives driven by digital technology, strong performances from the electronics and technology sectors and high internet penetration. The region is also forecast to expand more as ASEAN economies continue to mature and become even more competitive globally.

This digital transformation is not without challenges, and foremost among them is the region becoming a hotspot of cyber attacks. In fact, many companies in the region have identified cyber incidents as a primordial concern, joining a global trend in which organisations have recognised this same threat as one of the biggest issues they are facing today. The most common cyber attack organisations in Southeast Asia are getting hit with is the data breach, which is likely to become more prevalent given an unprecedented rise in digital interactions and the emergence of insider threats.  

Data breaches are a valid concern, as identified in IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021, which found that these cyber incidents cost Southeast Asia USD $2.71 million in 2020 and will cost the region an estimated USD $2.71 million this year. That amount may just be a quarter of what the U.S., for instance, is losing to data breaches (USD $8.64 million last year; an estimated USD $9.04 million this year) or about half of what Germany is losing (USD $4.45 million last year; an estimated USD $4.89 million this year) but it is significant nonetheless when the region’s size and economic status are factored in.

In fact, the IBM report found that the healthcare, financial, pharmaceutical and energy industries are four of the five sectors hardest hit by data breaches globally. Worldwide, the healthcare industry has lost around USD $7.13 million to data breaches, while the financial, pharmaceutical and energy sectors have lost an estimated USD $5.85 million, $5.06 million and $6.39 million, respectively.

IBM also found that customers’ personal information is the kind of data being targeted the most by cybercriminals, with 44% of data breaches going after them. Anonymised customer data is also a prime target (28%), followed by intellectual property information (27%), employee personal details (26%) and other sensitive data (12%).

To illustrate, Singapore-based RedMart was hit just last October by a data breach that compromised 1.1 million user accounts, while Indonesia’s Tokopedia was breached in May 2020, resulting in the leak of 91 million users’ information. A year earlier, in March 2019, Toyota Motor Corporation detected unauthorised access on the servers of its subsidiaries in both Thailand and Vietnam.

The above examples are just three of the notable data breaches reported in the ASEAN region but they already underscore the scope and seriousness of the data breach problem in Southeast Asia. It is a problem that will persist and will necessitate a zero-trust approach to proactively address, quickly and effectively.

To find out more about data breaches, their scope and impact, and how businesses can significantly lower the risks with zero-trust and automation, click here to download IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021.

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