Malaysian companies ill-prepared for cybersecurity threats

Malaysian cybersecurity
Image by nialowwa | Bigstockphoto

A mere 16% of Malaysian organizations have the ‘Mature’ level of readiness needed to be resilient against today’s modern cybersecurity risks, according to Cisco’s first-ever Cybersecurity Readiness Index.

The index has been developed against the backdrop of a post-COVID hybrid world, where users and data must be secured wherever work gets done. The report highlights where businesses are doing well and where cybersecurity readiness gaps will widen if global business and security leaders don’t take action.

Organizations have moved from an operating model that was largely static – where people operated from single devices from one location, connecting to a static network – to a hybrid world in which they increasingly operate from multiple devices in multiple locations, connect to multiple networks, access applications in the cloud and on the go, and generate an enormous amount of data. This presents new and unique cybersecurity challenges for companies.

Cisco Cybersecurity Readiness Index: Resilience in a Hybrid World

The Cisco Cybersecurity Readiness Index: Resilience in a Hybrid World report measures the readiness of companies to maintain cybersecurity resilience against modern threats. These measures cover five core pillars that form the baseline of required defences: identity, devices, network, application workloads, and data, and encompass 19 different solutions within the pillars.

Conducted by an independent third party, the double-blind survey asked 6,700 private sector cybersecurity leaders across 27 markets to indicate which of these solutions they had deployed and the stage of deployment. Companies were then classified into four stages of increasing readiness: Beginner, Formative, Progressive and Mature.

  • Beginner (Overall score of less than 10): At the initial stages of deployment of solutions
  • Formative (Score of between 11 – 44): Have some level of deployment but performing below average on cybersecurity readiness
  • Progressive (Score of between 45 – 75): Considerable level of deployment and performing above average on cybersecurity readiness
  • Mature (Score of 76 and higher): Have achieved advanced stages of deployment and are most ready to address security risks

Alongside the stark finding that only 16% of companies in Malaysia are at the Mature stage, almost half of the companies fall into the Beginner (4%) or Formative (40%) stages. While organizations in Malaysia are faring better than the global average (15% of companies in the Mature stage), the number is still very low, given the risks.

Malaysian cybersecurity
Image courtesy: Cisco

The readiness gap is telling

This readiness gap is telling, not least, because 95% of respondents said they expect a cybersecurity incident to disrupt their business in the next 12 to 24 months. The cost of being unprepared can be substantial, as 55% of respondents said they had a cybersecurity incident in the last 12 months, and 35% of those affected said it cost them at least US $500,000.

Business leaders must establish a baseline of ‘readiness’ across the five security pillars to build secure and resilient organizations. This need is especially critical given that 91% of the respondents plan to increase their security budgets by at least 10% over the next 12 months. By establishing a base, organizations can build on their strengths and prioritize the areas where they need more maturity and improve their resilience.

Cybersecurity is a top priority for Malaysian organizations

“Cybersecurity continues to be a top priority for the government and businesses in Malaysia. With many services being application-first and businesses being digital-first today, more needs to be done to close the security readiness gap,” said Hana Raja, Managing Director, Cisco Malaysia. “The index is a reality check and a stark reminder for organizations in Malaysia that security must keep pace with digitalization in a hybrid world. Organizations need to prioritize identifying gaps in their cybersecurity posture and adopting an integrated platform approach to security across the five key pillars to build their resilience, especially as technology becomes more deeply ingrained into work and into work and life.”  

Other key findings of the index include:

  • Identity: Only 23% of organizations are ranked Mature
  • Devices: This has the highest percentage of companies in the Mature stage at 30%
  • Network Security: This is the pillar where companies are the least prepared, with 57% of organizations in the Beginner or Formative stages  
  • Application Workloads: Companies are lagging on this front, with 56% of organizations in the Beginner or Formative stages  
  • Data: This has the second-highest number of companies in the Mature stage (24%)

Related article: Securing Malaysia’s adoption of robotics against attacks

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