What you need to know about securing your APAC business and the recent data law changes

September 9, 2020  |  Nahla Davies

Data breaches are growing in frequency and intensity amidst the recent Coronavirus pandemic, having increased by nearly 273% in the first quarter compared to the same time frame last year. In fact, 2020 may very well be remembered as the year when cybersecurity became a business problem rather than a technology issue.

The driving factor here is the recent shift in workforce culture. More and more organizations are now setting up remote working teams. In addition to this, the introduction of the latest cybersecurity laws across the Asia Pacific (APAC), along with changes to data protection rules, has created a need for business owners to actively review their cybersecurity and data handling strategies.

Why do companies need to rethink their cybersecurity approach?

APAC businesses have to transform their cybersecurity strategy, especially since the existing landscape is becoming increasingly complex. There is also greater exposure to major data breaches, and the bad news here is it's only escalating.

Today, 74% of executives belong to organizations that are actively involved in digital transformation activities. While this digitization can certainly work wonders for boosting efficiency and staying at the top of things, it shouldn’t be at the cost of safety, which is a potential problem as businesses start operating online.

Existing tools and security approaches may not be as effective (or completely redundant in some cases) since hackers are adopting more insidious tactics and focus. Luckily, a few browsers have upped their game to make the internet safe and private, but additional measures are still required. We all have to keep in mind, however, that not all browsers are made equal. If you prioritize your privacy, you’ll definitely like to know which browsers will keep your activity private without compromising your internet experience.

An April study found that 56% of the participants had encountered hacking attempts, which is a 5% increase over the previous quarter. Hackers are leaving no stone unturned to stay undetected, and in case they get exposed, they also have ways to fight back.

So it’s crucial for businesses to do a better job in identifying underlying problems before manifestation. And the only way to do this is through regular threat hunting that spans across the entire information supply chain.

Critical cybersecurity tips for APAC businesses to enhancing network security

The following are a few cybersecurity tips for APAC businesses to continue functioning without any disruptions amidst the ongoing pandemic:

Accepting and Adapting to a Remote Workforce Culture

Despite the ongoing debate about the suitability of remote work, the current pandemic has created circumstances forcing businesses to make an instant transformation to accommodate the same. Plus, owners have to understand that work from home arrangements are only going to move forward from this point.

This change has bought them face-to-face with the requirement of having efficient IT support in terms of both infrastructure and people. APAC businesses are now more exposed to various security vulnerabilities.

Employees may not adhere to the same security standards and practices as they normally would in a traditional office setting. On top of this, even resources are greatly limited at this point. The best solution here is to adapt to these unique conditions, and preferably as quickly as possible. The only way to minimize cybercrime is to maintain proper security protocols.

While improving network security, recruiting more people in the IT department, and implementing monitoring tools are definitely effective, organizations also need to establish proper policies. Additionally, the workforce needs to be educated and trained to understand the importance of cybersecurity.

Understanding data privacy compliance cruciality

APAC organizations have to comply with different – and often contradicting – data protection regimes.

You see, businesses operating in the region need to periodically review regional data compliance programs, and also make updates as needed. This should be done in accordance with the changes in data laws across APAC with regards to data localization, security measures, and overseas data transfers.

While it’s true that APAC data regimes promote business growth, compliance might clash with the adoption of some emerging tech. The primary idea here is to keep revisiting data privacy compliance as a means for facilitating modern data analytics and commercialization activities.

Identifying potential cyberattacks and taking curative measures

Did you know that nearly 59% of businesses allow their employees to use personal devices for work purposes? This is one of the main contributing factors towards the rising cyber incidents across the globe, especially since most of them are well-versed in identifying potential red flags.

For instance, an employee may unknowingly click on a malicious link that contains ransomware, allowing hackers to steal critical information and encrypt a large amount of valuable data to be used as leverage.

This is a matter of great concern as a good majority of APAC businesses rely on big data as a key business driver. Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to benefit from security loopholes in network systems.

In the past, cybersecurity and privacy regulators in the APAC and ANZAC regions have introduced stricter data breach and cyber incident reporting requirements. “This move has added a regulatory compliance element to manage cyber incidents better,” says Will Ellis, a VPN security analyst at Privacy Australia. “We’ve seen a two-fold increase in the number of breach reports coming from Asia-based businesses.”

To put things to a perspective, businesses need to realize there are various possibilities of falling prey to a cyberattack. Hence, it's vital for them to prioritize and ascertain they have robust incident management procedures and response teams in place. Doing this is also one of the best ways to curb the harsh effects of getting hacked.

Developing a proper cybersecurity strategy

A work from home setting is the only viable solution to keep companies afloat in the ongoing situation. But to make sure remote working works in favor of businesses, steps need to be taken to provide secure application access to the entire workforce. More so, if they want to control the unfavorable consequences of employees using unsecured endpoints and network connections.

With a well thought out and properly organized cybersecurity program in place, businesses will be able to remain functional without compromising their security. Businesses must be open to investing in cybersecurity as they would when incurring expenses to boost growth and sales.

APAC businesses also need to work on managing current and future risks by adopting relevant mitigation plans – all the while operating within their budgets. Interestingly, businesses that start implementing cybersecurity laws and regulations earlier are better equipped to deal with future challenges and disruptions in this space.

The bottom line

Asia-Pacific businesses have to come up with innovative ways to curb the new wave of cyber risks – all the while being mindful of the new cybersecurity laws.

Whether it’s implementing proper security policies suitable for a remote workforce or formulating strategies to maintain the integrity of the entire system – immediate and appropriate action is now a necessity. After all, it’s the only way to survive in the long run.

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