Cybersecurity + Data Privacy efforts need to be intensified
INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry J. Schumacher (The Freeman) - August 16, 2019 - 12:00am

While ASEAN is increasingly coordinating its efforts to reinforce regional cybersecurity, more needs to be done to address the constantly evolving threats, especially in the Philippines.

The country moved up to fifth place in Kapersky Lab’s global list of countries with most online threats detected in the second quarter of 2019!!

Data fraud/theft and cyberattacks were the fourth and fifth biggest threats facing the world according to the nearly 1,000 decision-makers surveyed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in this year’s Global Risks Report, and it is clear that stakeholders in the public and private sector as well as academia and civil society should intensify efforts to contain potential fallouts.

Increasing in sophistication and volume, hackers’ attacks and their successful breaches are causing more damage than ever before. 2018 represented a record year for the number of new business vulnerabilities discovered worldwide.

Organizations in ASEAN are accelerating their security transformation by forging strategic relationships with select partners to build security roadmaps and architectures and optimizing their infrastructure. Additionally, ASEAN governments have issued various guidelines mandating the private and public sector to upgrade their security infrastructure in order to combat the evolving threat landscape.

Larger organizations are ramping up their capabilities by investing in threat intelligence platforms as they look to collect, curate, and share threat intelligence with industry peers and information sharing bodies.

Much like their global and Asia Pacific counterparts, boardrooms in ASEAN are now increasingly prioritizing cybersecurity and are more aware of the threat landscape, compliance, risks and technology innovations.  This in turn helps them to identify their focus areas, priorities and investment decisions.

However, ASEAN is still not spending enough on cybersecurity. 

Latest data shows that ASEAN member states only spent an estimated US$1.9 billion in 2017 — or a measly 0.06 percent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) — on cybersecurity. 

There have been several notable data breaches in ASEAN of late:

* In mid-March, Japan’s Toyota Motor Corporation revealed a data breach had been detected on servers at its subsidiaries in Thailand and Vietnam – before news broke days later that the personal information of 3.1 million clients in Japan was exposed after another attack.

* In January, Philippine pawnshop and money remittance company, Cebuana Lhuillier admitted an email server used for marketing purposes was breached – compromising the data of about 900,000 clients.

* In the same month, Singapore reported its second health data breach in six months after its worst-ever data breach last July exposed the data of 1.5 million patients – including that of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Perhaps recognizant of these reports, delegates at the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok in June agreed to work together more effectively to enhance regional cybersecurity cooperation. They also agreed to build an open, secure, stable, accessible and resilient cyberspace – which will support the digital economy of the ASEAN region.

Current ASEAN chair, Thailand actively cooperates with other ASEAN member states and the international community in cybersecurity efforts – including knowledge sharing events which bridge the partnership between public and private sectors, especially crucial since the general public may not have access to such information.

Ultimately, increased cooperation will make ASEAN more resilient and vigilant when it comes to addressing growing cybersecurity threats. Of course, cybersecurity and data privacy protection are interlinked. Consequently, the same cooperation is also needed for the implementation of data privacy protection.

The tools to address the threats of cybersecurity and data privacy breaches are available. If assistance is needed, email me at

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