Next big bet lies in cyber for businesses in Vietnam

November 30, 2021 | 18:44
More and more we are living in a borderless world. Interconnectedness is permeating our daily lives largely by virtue of the cloud, but as the pathway between us and the rest of the world shrinks, so does our distance from cybercriminals.
Next big bet lies in cyber for businesses in Vietnam
Le Nhan Tam is CTO, Technical Sales leader, IBM Technology Sales, IBM Vietnam

As cybercrime profits rise, so do the costs to businesses after suffering a breach. The results of a recent global Cost of Data Breach study found that data breaches now cost companies $2.64 million per incident on average in ASEAN, including Vietnam. Cybersecurity is also becoming more important in Vietnam with more businesses increasing their security investment.

Data breaches in finance were most expensive by industry ($231 million), followed by transport ($178 million) and technology ($172 million). The cost of a breach was $430,000 higher than average at organisations that had not undergone any digital transformation due to COVID-19.

As the user experience has become more seamless thanks to the modernisation of digital infrastructure and IoT devices, it is also becoming easier for cybercriminals to exploit digital pathways in order to gain a foothold in business environments. Now more than ever, business leaders need to ask themselves: what are the biggest risks to our organisation?

Employees are your first line of defence

Of organizations that required remote work as a result of COVID-19, 70 per cent said remote work would increase the cost of a data breach and 76 per cent said it would increase the time to identify and contain a potential data breach.

Similarly, phishing attacks are bringing breaches a click away from businesses. Cybercriminals are using malicious yet legitimate-looking emails, cleverly crafted, to trick employees into clicking a link or opening an attachment that would trigger malware to spread through the corporate network. What might look like an email from the business’s CFO or HR department, might be a cybercriminal in disguise, and businesses need to educate employees on how to scrutinise and question their email inbox.

Cybercriminals are pouncing

Consumers’ lax approach to security, combined with rapid digital transformation by businesses during the pandemic, can also provide attackers with further ammunition to propagate cyberattacks across industries – from ransomware to data theft. According to IBM Security X-Force, individuals created 15 new accounts on average during the pandemic, with 82 per cent reusing passwords across accounts. Compromised credentials is one of the most popular “keys” cybercriminals are using to illicitly enter businesses.

Convenience often outweighed security and privacy. More than half of millennials surveyed would rather place an order using a potentially insecure app or website against call or visit a location in person.

Falling into the complexity trap

As organisations modernise their digital infrastructure through hybrid cloud to achieve greater levels of speed and agility, we have reached the point where large companies are often using 50-100 different security tools from dozens of different vendors. The more complex a security architecture, the more blind spots to security teams’ visibility that there are.

The result? Misconfigured settings, missed threats, and increased time to detect and respond. X-Force found that misconfigurations were the cause of two out of three cloud environments compromised, while the team’s annual global review of cyber incidents illustrates that exploiting known, unpatched vulnerabilities was the most common way cybercriminals were breaching organisations.

Put contingency plans to test

Perhaps the biggest risk to businesses is believing there is no risk at all. But what if the business is wrong? It is essential that businesses create and test a response plan to use if and when they are breached.

Ransomware is a significant threat in ASEAN. Just in the past year, we have seen a slew of ransomware attacks permeating virtually every industry. According to statistics provided by Kaspersky in the Interpol’s Asean Cyberthreat Assessment Report 2021, there were about 2.7 million ransomware detections in ASEAN during the first three quarters of 2020. Among the 10 ASEAN member countries, Indonesia suffered the most with 1.3 million counts, accounting for almost half of the entire detections in the region, followed by Vietnam with 886,874. Most recently, Vietnam was targeted in complex supply chain attack.

Here is a hypothetical: If your business was the next ransomware victim, would you be prepared to respond? Do you know where your most critical data lies? Or which teams need to be immediately activated? Beyond your security team, are your legal and crisis communications teams ready to step in? Conducting breach simulations can identify gaps in your response plan that you need to double down on.

How organisations can adapt to shifting security landscape

Shifting to a "zero trust" approach is a way that organisations can adapt, beyond multi-factor authentication. Zero trust approach applies advanced AI and analytics throughout the process to spot potential threats, rather than assuming a user is trusted after authentication.

An innovative technology like Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE) can help companies achieve zero trust by manipulating data by permissioned parties while data remains encrypted, which minimise opportunities for hackers and insiders to exfiltrate unencrypted data. FHE also makes it possible to selectively restrict decryption capabilities, so people can see only the portions of a file that they are entitled to, and are necessary for them to do their work.

As we near the end of 2021 and prepare for the new year, we can expect cybercriminals to show no signs of slowing down their attacks. Businesses should dedicate time to “security introspection” and assessing the actions they are taking to strengthen their cyber resilience. As the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link.

By Le Nhan Tam

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