Emerging technology innovations and trends in cybersecurity

In the post-pandemic era, data has become the currency of any intelligent enterprise. With the rise of remote working and digitisation across all areas of business, protecting organisational data has become ever more challenging. Hybrid IT models are becoming more popular as organisations seek to meet their digital requirements, adding further complexity to developing an effective cybersecurity strategy.

Today’s businesses are generating, storing, and processing data not only in on-premises data centres but also in the cloud and at the edge — in advanced medical imaging clinics, smart factories, and across vast networks of remote employees. As organisations in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region progress on their digital transformation journey in 2023, staying ahead of the curve and identifying crucial emerging technology innovations and trends in cybersecurity is crucial to prevent and mitigate potential security risks.

Safeguarding data through AI

Over the next few years, the APAC region will continue to invest in AI solutions to drive innovation across all levels and areas of business. According to IDC, spending on AI systems in the region is predicted to rise from US$17.6 billion in 2022 to around US$32 billion in 2025. By enabling a quicker response time to breaches, AI is playing a vital role in advancing cybersecurity solutions. AI has demonstrated high efficiency in securing cloud services, on-premises infrastructure, and detecting atypical user behaviour.

The financial services industry is especially keen to leverage AI for cybersecurity. In APAC, banking is expected to invest more in AI than any other sector over the next five years, with experts increasingly looking to AI solutions for augmented threat intelligence and fraud analysis applications. As automation becomes more prevalent, enterprises are likely to prioritise the use of AI to support security initiatives and drive business growth.

Growth of IoT presents new risks

The market for the Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding rapidly in APAC, with analysts predicting IoT spending to reach US$437 billion in 2025. This growth is being driven by various factors, including the rise of remote working, increased focus on building smart infrastructures, and the emergence of new technologies in healthcare and other industries.

However, the growth of IoT also brings with it increased security risks, as many IoT devices are mass-produced without adequate security measures. This makes it challenging to secure these devices using traditional security controls and practices. To mitigate these inherent security vulnerabilities, governments across the region are responding to this challenge by introducing IoT security regulations, such as Singapore’s “Guidelines for IoT security for smart nation” and IoT Cyber Security Guide.

Blockchain/Distributed ledgers gain popularity in the financial services sector

2023 will see increased investment in blockchain and distributed ledger capabilities. According to EY, blockchain is expected to be the top investment among financial institutions in APAC over the coming years. Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies hold the promise of providing a tamper-proof record of all transactions, enabling efficiency and transparency, optimising operations beyond what the current ecosystem of centralised database management and paper-driven bills could achieve.

Enterprises can choose the level of security required for all the data, or for specific cases, making it easier to implement strong technical security measures such as encryption, automation, access control, orchestration, and endpoint security to manage risk effectively.

Zero trust becomes a business imperative

From an intriguing idea and catchword, zero trust has quickly made its way to a critical business imperative. The zero-trust model requires every device, user, or network segment to be treated as a potential threat. Hence, organisations must take measures to allow continuous verification to offer regular assurance that the systems and their components are operating appropriately.

According to a recent State of Zero Trust Security in Asia Pacific 2022 report, almost half (49%) of APAC organisations have a zero-trust strategy in place. Of those that have not adopted a zero-trust strategy, 38% said they plan to do so over the next six to 12 months. Other recent survey findings have found that zero trust will continue to be a key cybersecurity priority for businesses in APAC for the next 12 to 18 months.

Ransomware remains a security threat

As threat actors continue to use malware, phishing, and malicious emails to extract data and hold organisations hostage, ransomware will remain a major security threat to organisations in APAC. According to a Ransomware Protection Market Research, APAC is expected to exhibit the highest growth in the global ransomware protection market from 2022 to 2031, demonstrating the region’s aggressive investment in security solutions against ransomware attacks.

As security threats evolve, criminals are resorting to increasingly sophisticated tactics to attack organisational data and cause significant damage to businesses. In 2021, 78% of organisations in APAC were hit by ransomware attacks that impacted their IT or operational technology/industrial control system environments, or both, with 51% of them paying the ransom. In 2023, organisations need to reassess their approach to cybersecurity and employ a holistic security strategy to keep pace with the ever-advancing security threats.