Digital Trust Insights 2023: The Southeast Asia Perspective

Southeast Asia leaps forward to a cyber-ready future

As one of the globe’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions, Southeast Asia is a hotbed of prosperity and growth, with a plethora of digital tools and advanced internet capabilities serving as critical conduits to spur creativity and innovation across the region.
Explore the key findings

This is further personified post Covid-19, as Southeast Asian businesses, organisations and institutions are building newer digital technologies and infrastructures to fuel stronger and sustainable growth and to capture a multitude of new opportunities.

However, the adoption of a wide range of digital tools and technologies has also increased the scope and nature of cyber threats. In addition, complicated tech stacks pose challenges for legacy cyber solutions.

Nonetheless, cyber professionals in Southeast Asia are robustly rising to these complex challenges.

PwC conducted a study of C-suite executives on their cybersecurity progress since 2020 and found that spending on cybersecurity in Southeast Asia has surged over the years as leaders zero-in on their biggest vulnerabilities.

Digital Trust Insights 2023: The Southeast Asia Perspective charts the cybersecurity progress undertaken in Southeast Asia since 2020, illustrates the key challenges business leaders are anticipating that will take precedence, and offers imperative call to actions for boards to effectively combat against the ever-evolving cyberthreat landscape.

Cybersecurity progress in Southeast Asia since 2020

While businesses regionally are stepping up to become cyber-ready amid a heightened threat landscape, much more can be done as rapid digitalisation across entire organisations pose an unending list of complex security challenges:

  • Although companies in Southeast Asia are facing an increase in their organisation's exposure to cyber attacks due to increased digitalisation, there is a high confidence amongst Southeast Asian companies that their cyber teams have made improvements in mitigating their cyber risks over the last year
  • Southeast Asian companies rank higher than their global counterparts in improving operational security and responding to cyber breaches or attacks
  • Southeast Asian companies will continue to face more risks from across a range of cyber aspects as cloud and digital tools adoption grow in importance
  • Hackers are the number one source of cyber threat in Southeast Asia
  • Cyber budgets are growing in the region to meet these increased threats
  • As data breaches becoming more common, Cyber is now a matter of board governance. Although board members in Southeast Asia outperform their global counterparts in subject knowledge, there is still a misalignment in how the c-suite and board on how cybersecurity risk is understood

The three clarion calls to stay ahead

Board governance of cyber risks is critical in fostering a robust cybersecurity ethos
There has been a significant shift in terms of how companies think about cybersecurity—it is no longer an issue for just IT executives, but a matter of board governance.

Bolster cloud security to realise the promise of the remote work revolution
With the hybrid work revolution being the defining trend of the post-pandemic reality, this has prompted an acceleration in the adoption of cloud-based solutions. Concurrently, this has also exposed firms to cybersecurity incidents in their cloud environments. Hence, embedding cloud security has become a critical imperative for businesses.

Focus on data security and privacy to build trust in consumers
Companies that have strong data privacy practices tend to benefit from better customer trust. Integrating a privacy-first mindset and leveraging the right tools will drive long-term resilience and strengthen customer confidence.

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About the survey

Digital Trust Insights 2023: The Southeast Asia Perspective is a survey of 122 business, technology and cybersecurity executives across three countries in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore), conducted in July and August 2022.

A little more than half are executives in companies with global annual revenues of more than US$1 billion, and they are from a range of industries: Industrial manufacturing (25%), Financial services (24%), Tech, media, telecom (19%), Retail and consumer markets (19%), Energy, utilities, and resources (8%), Government and public services (3%) and Health (2%).

The Southeast Asia survey is a part of the 2023 Global Digital Trust Insights survey of 3,522 business, technology, and cybersecurity executives (CEOs, corporate directors, CFOs, CISOs, CIOs, and C-Suite officers).

PwC Research, PwC’s global Centre of Excellence for market research and insight, conducted this survey.

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Raymond Teo

Raymond Teo

Partner and Cyber Leader, PwC South East Asia Consulting, PwC Singapore

Tel: +65 8522 3492