Sustained effort vital for facing cybersecurity risks

Kyndryl Malaysia managing director Effendi Azmi Hashim

PETALING JAYA: As corporate Malaysia faces a surge in data breaches, immediate remedial action needs to be implemented amid the surge in digitalisation and lack of concrete cybersecurity strategies.

Kyndryl Malaysia managing director Effendi Azmi Hashim told StarBiz companies should expand investments in cybersecurity infrastructure, implement continuous training programmes, and foster collaboration between the government and the private sector.

With concerted effort, he said the country can stay ahead of emerging threats and ensure the safety of its citizens.

By doing so, he said businesses not only safeguard their digital assets but also contribute to creating a resilient and secure digital environment in Malaysia. It is a collective effort to fortify against evolving cyber threats, and every individual in every organisation plays a crucial role in this endeavour, he said.

“The course of the cybersecurity landscape, particularly in Malaysia, hinges on proactive measures. Since 2014, the country has positioned itself as one of the most prepared nations in cybersecurity, securing the second spot in Asia-Pacific and fifth globally on the Global Cybersecurity Index.

“Despite this recognition, sustained efforts are essential for Malaysia to overcome its primary cybersecurity challenges, including cybersecurity vulnerabilities, ransomware, and a rapidly growing digital population,” he added.

Kyndryl Malaysia is a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest IT infrastructure services providers, United States-based Kyndryl Holdings Inc. Headquartered in New York City and created from the spin-off of IBM’s infrastructure services business in 2021, Kyndryl designs, builds, manages, and modernises the complex, mission-critical information systems that the world depends on every day.

Effendi said the cybersecurity landscape in Malaysia is undergoing a transformative phase, marked by a substantial surge in reported data breaches in 2023.

According to the Personal Data Protection Department in Malaysia, the country witnessed an alarming surge in data-breach cases last year, hitting an unprecedented peak of 15 reported incidents per week, predominantly driven by ransomware attacks.

In fact, an IDC global study last year found that cyber attacks are costing businesses significant losses of data or money – with 69% respondents being adversely affected by a cyber attack in the past year.

Of those impacted by ransomware, 68% chose to pay the ransom while 32% chose not to. And for those that chose not to, 4% were not able to recover encrypted data and files from backups.

Commenting on this trend, he said this scenario emphasises the urgent need for companies to adopt a holistic approach, one that transcends traditional cybersecurity measures, to effectively counter the evolving threat landscape.

Effendi said, in Malaysia, cyber attacks persist due to a combination of factors, including the increasing digitisation of businesses, a lack of comprehensive cybersecurity strategies, and evolving tactics employed by cyber criminals.

“The human factor also plays a pivotal role, through inadvertent disclosure of sensitive information, vulnerabilities posed by weak passwords, susceptibility to phishing attacks, insider misuse, and the risk of physical theft involving data-carrying devices.

“While strides have been made, there is still work to be done to fortify the digital landscape against these persistent threats,” he noted.

Kyndryl Malaysia has implemented a comprehensive enterprise-level IT security management programme that encompasses a well-defined set of policies, practices, controls, employee education initiatives, incident reporting mechanisms, and periodic reviews. Its primary objective is to effectively mitigate the risks associated with potential loss and misuse of our critical information, thereby safeguarding our business operations from potential disruptions.

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