Singaporean firms embrace generative AI, despite security jitters

Companies are feeling the pressure to rush into generative AI tool usage, despite significant security concerns, a survey by Zscaler showed.

In October 2023, Zscaler commissioned Sapio Research to conduct a survey of 901 IT decision makers across 10 markets — Australia and New Zealand, France, Germany, India, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the United States.

Results revealed that 90% of Singaporean organisations consider generative AI tools like ChatGPT to be a potential security risk even if all respondents were already using them in some guise within their businesses. 

Worse, 24% of this user group are not monitoring the usage at all, and 31% have yet to implement any additional generative AI-related security measures – though many have it on their roadmap. 

“Generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, offer Singaporean businesses the opportunity to improve efficiencies, innovation and the speed in which teams can work,” said Heng Mok, CISO of Zscaler in Asia-Pacific and Japan. 

“But we can’t ignore the potential security risk of some tools and the potential implications of data loss,” said Mok. “It is encouraging to see the Singapore government driving principle-based initiatives like fairness, ethics, accountability and transparency (FEAT) and Project MindForge to tackle the risks that come with generative AI.”

The rollout pressure isn’t coming from where people might think, however, with the results suggesting that IT has the ability to regain control of the situation. 

Despite mainstream awareness, it is not employees who appear to be the driving force behind current interest and usage – only 3% of respondents said it stemmed from employees. Instead, 64% said usage was being driven by the IT teams directly. 

“It should be reassuring for business leaders in Singapore to see IT teams leading the charge,” Heng Mok added. “It demonstrates they are using AI tools with business objectives and security top of mind. With the fast-paced nature of GenAI, it is essential that businesses continue to prioritise educating employees and implement security measures in response to emerging technologies.”

With nearly half (48%) of respondents anticipating a significant increase in the interest of generative AI tools before the end of the year, organisations need to act quickly to close the gap between use and security.