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Collaboration needed to better tackle cyber-security risks
Cyber incidents are the top risk for Asia-Pacific businesses, according to a recent survey
22 Jan 2021 | Darryl Yu

Close to a year of living under some form of social distancing and work-from-home arrangements, businesses undoubtedly have had to adapt to the new normal, now heavily relying on digital tools to maintain business-as-usual functions. While the shift towards digitalization has been welcomed by most companies, the move has also heightened the risk of cyber-attacks, with criminals looking to take advantage of enterprises inexperienced with cyber-security practices.

In fact, cyber-attack incidents have been on the rise since Covid-19 first emerged in the first quarter of 2020, with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation reporting a 400% increase in reported cases of cyber-attacks since the onset of the pandemic.

Cyber incidents were also cited as the top business risk facing Asia-Pacific companies in 2020, followed by the ongoing pandemic and business disruptions, according to Allianz’s Risk Barometer 2021 survey.

Amid growing concerns over cyber-attacks, there should be increased coordination and efforts to share best practices in countering such incidents. That’s what some experts speaking on a panel session as part of this year’s Asian Financial Forum believed.

“Cyber security is a team sport; it should be every one’s responsibility. In order for technology providers to work, they need someone who can give some sort of roadmap or guideline and make sure that things are executed correctly,” shares Harry Pun, cyber-security executive, Greater China, at Microsoft. “If you look at those bad actors, they are very organized. It should be the same on our side.”

A similar sentiment is held by Nelson Chow, chief fintech officer, fintech facilitation office, at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. “In the cyber-security space, you have solution providers, you have technology users such as the banks, and you have the financial regulator,” observes Chow. “All these three parties have to work closely with each other.”

Already, some financial regulators have started to implement such collaborative action to counter cyber security and general financial fraud risks. For example, in Thailand, under the country’s National Digital ID (NDID), retail banking customers can be onboarded easily as the NDID system shares information to help banks to verify a person’s identity.

The sharing of useful information among market participants in the financial ecosystem is not strictly new, but is growing in popularity with a number of jurisdictions such as the European Union one of the leaders in that charge. Under its recent Payment Service Directive (PSD2), traditional banks, with their customers’ consent, will be allowed to share data to non-banking firms such as third-party payment providers.

If there is one thing the ongoing pandemic has shown us, it is that working collaboratively towards a common goal can help curb a number of risks such as growing cyber threats. 

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