In light of increased attacks and breaches, Singapore businesses rank cyber security as a top business priority at enterprise level, according to new findings from Telstra.
Revealed via the 2019 Telstra Security Report, 83 per cent of Singapore businesses experienced ransomware attacks in 2018, accounting for the highest rate globally (61 per cent) of paying a ransom after an incident, alongside New Zealand.
Almost half (45 per cent) of businesses in Singapore also expressed concern about the potential loss of productivity following a major security breach, with over half suffering a security breach last year.
“Due to the rise of increasingly sophisticated attacks, companies are more aware than ever of the damage these attacks have on reputation and customer trust,” said Marjet Andriesse, managing director of Asia Pacific (APAC) at Telstra.
“Ransomware continues to be a challenge for many businesses in Singapore, which is a very important issue as those attacked face a serious potential loss of productivity, data, and public trust."
Furthermore, the report found that 47 per cent of Singapore-based businesses believe that security is moving towards a ‘presumption of breach’ mindset, meaning they must be prepared for the inevitable day a major incident occurs.
Finding commonality with global peers, the majority of Singapore-based organisations (70 per cent) understood the importance of increasing investment into security awareness and training programs, declaring that their relative security budgets are set to increase.
Three-in-four (76 per cent) of local businesses currently have incident response plans already in place, the report found.
Of the respondents with a plan, a third (33 per cent) are testing such plans on a monthly basis, which is a noticeable increase from the previous year where only 18 per cent tested them monthly.
The introduction of new regulations and high-profile privacy breaches have also contributed towards the C-level and senior management taking a greater interest in security; 37 per cent of respondents have seen an increase in the frequency of meetings with senior stakeholders.
With increasingly complex and sophisticated security measures in place, what is the largest risk factor, globally? As expected, it is human error, which more often than not is caused by inadequate business processes and by employees not understanding their organisation’s security policies.
However, in Singapore, external hackers motivated to steal intellectual property or commit a financial crime, were cited as the highest risk to IT security by 36 per cent of respondents.
The challenge for many organisations today is the ability to quickly detect and effectively respond to incidents in an effort to mitigate the negative effects of the breach.
Across APAC, only 49 per cent of respondents are confident in being able to detect data breaches within ‘minutes or hours’, down from 53 per cent in the 2018 report.
The report also highlights the concerning stat that 88 per cent of respondents believe that they experienced a data breach incident that went undetected last year. However, 55 per cent of businesses shared the belief that to some extent, the systems they have are strong enough to verify if an incident had occurred.
A much broader discussion around security practices is needed to address the increasing prevalence of ransomware and data breaches, recommended Andriesse.
For one, in the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), the attack vector for many organisations is broadening as the number of connected devices increases. This presents an opportunity for new technologies to improve end-to-end visibility and better management of security risks.
“Every company’s security strategy must prepare them for the ever-emerging threats,” Andriesse added. "Businesses must continue to protect themselves and customers against cyber attacks in order to take advantage of an increasingly connected landscape."
The 2019 Telstra Security Report was conducted by analyst firm GlobalData and involved interviews with 1,298 security professionals across 13 countries between November and December 2018, with 61 per cent of the surveys conducted across APAC.