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The Rise of Hackers in APAC and Its Implications for Australia


The Asia Pacific region (APAC) has made significant strides in digital transformation in the past few years. However, with digitization, cybersecurity incidents in the area have risen, too. According to a report, cybercriminals targeted the APAC region the most in 2021, with Australia, Japan, and India the worst hit. In the APAC region, 68% of organizations fell prey to cybersecurity breaches, costing companies an average of US$ 2.2 million.  

 Why APAC is facing rising cybersecurity threats 

APAC is steadily emerging as a global innovation hub. But the region's massive digitization post-pandemic has outpaced its cybersecurity preparedness. This mismatch has led to a spike in breaches. According to Forrester's research, it takes regional organizations 32 days to find and eradicate violations and 12 days to recover on average. In the past five years,83% of Asia Pacific organizations have suffered a ransomware incident.

So what is the root cause?

  • The rapid pace of digitization: The APAC region has a combination of digitally matured and emerging markets. However, the common thread between both markets is the accelerated pace of digital transformation.

    Advanced post-paid markets like Japan, Singapore, and Australia ramped up their digital transformation efforts to tap into the opportunities presented by 5G, cloud, AI, and more. The emerging markets in the region are driven by consumer adoption of digital technologies. But the lack of solid cybersecurity infrastructure has created a low barrier to entry for cybercriminals.

  • Digitization across industries: It's not just the tech industry that is falling victim to cybersecurity breaches. With digitization becoming a core for every sector, APAC sees a rise in cybercrimes in a broader range of industries that historically faced fewer threats.

  •  Economic and geopolitical factors: A survey by Ernst & Young found that many CISOs are struggling with more disruptive attacks, and budgets not being enough to address these issues.The cybersecurity situation across the region is becoming more complex due to the increase in state-sponsored attacks and territorial conflicts. The threat of ransomware and remote work is also adding to the challenges faced by CISOs.  

  • Inconsistent levels of cybersecurity maturity: The lack of unified regulation and varying cyber maturity levels in the APAC region hinder a coordinated response. Rules are localized, causing fragmentation. Some nations are more mature than others, with Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan leading the region in the Global Cybersecurity Index. However, countries like the Philippines and Myanmar have low maturity levels, while smaller nations like the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste ranking near the bottom. 

 What is APAC doing to address the cybersecurity challenge?

APAC is starting to guard itself against the cybersecurity challenges with cross-border initiatives, like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)'s continued cybersecurity collaboration and new legislation in countries across the region. Further, comprehensive data protection regimes in some APAC countries—Hong Kong, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Japan, and Australia—are helping combat cyberattacks in the region. 

How Australia is leading in the war against cyberattacks 

According to IBM's recent data, the global average cost of each cyber breach reached an all-time high of $4.35 million in 2022, a 2.6% increase from the previous year. In Australia, the average data breach cost was $2.9 million, a 3.4% rise, putting it among the 11 most expensive countries in the world for cyberattacks. But Australia is taking strong measures to address these challenges.  

The Australian government’s recent bill has exponentially increased the penalties for companies that suffer repeated data breaches. The current fines for the defaulters have been increased by 30% from the current AU$2.22 million to AU$50 million. It has become a mandatory requirement for Australian companies to have a robust cybersecurity infrastructure.  

The government is also investing to ensure that the cybersecurity infrastructure in the country is robust. The Australian government’s cybersecurity strategy has plans to invest $1.67 billion in the next ten years. But more than financial investments, the strategy lays down advice for the government, businesses, and individuals to ensure cybersecurity. The plan consists of protocols for the government, companies, and people. 

 Successful implementation of cyber defences is paying off for Australia. A recent cyber readiness report stated that 40% of Australian companies were confident in the maturity of their software supply chain risk management, compared to only 26% of Japanese and 35% of Indian companies.  

The Way Forward 

Businesses across the APAC region can strengthen their cyber resilience by adopting zero trust, extended detection and response measures, and improved cloud management. At Packetlabs, we partner with enterprises across to globe to ensure a robust cybersecurity infrastructure. Our services include risk analysis, penetration testing, DevSecOps, compromise assessment, cyber maturity assessment, and more.

Contact the Packetlabs team to strengthen your security posture and meet compliance regulations.

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