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Cybersecurity a priority post-pandemic for 9 of 10 business leaders in PH

US-based cybersecurity company CrowdStrike’s latest report saw that business leaders in the Philippines are looking at increasing technology budgets support accelerated digital transformation after a major disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among business leaders in the Philippines who believe that there should be more investment in remote working, 86% list the enhancement of cybersecurity measures as a top priority. Despite a grim economic outlook, 81% of local business leaders expect technology budgets to increase.

Government-imposed lockdowns enabled companies to resort to technology to ensure business continuity. Many businesses have either set up an e-commerce site or strengthened digital presence because almost all customers are now online.

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The CrowdStrike 2020 APJ State of Cybersecurity Report said 46% of local business leaders surveyed said the pandemic accelerated their move to cloud solutions, while nearly all (95%) say COVID-19 has changed the way they interact or deliver products and services to customers. These results indicate a strong shift and rapid investment into transformation projects that move from traditional on-premises security solutions to next-generation cloud-native solutions as organizations look to protect today’s distributed workforce and digitally driven business models.

Increase investment

Seventy-six percent of local business leaders believe that their organizations should increase investment in cybersecurity software over the next six months. As cybersecurity is front of mind for budget allocation, many respondents have recognised that COVID-19 has resulted in a massive increase in cyber-threat behaviour. CrowdStrike observed an increase in electronic crime (eCrime) activity – up by more than 330% since the start of 2020, as compared to the same period in 2019. As local business leaders look forward and put the initial shock of the pandemic behind them, the issues of solidifying secure digital transformation, prioritising and assigning budgets to the most critical areas – including cybersecurity training and protecting new supply chains, will need to be addressed.

“Our research findings show that respondents understand (the technology) gaps and expect to address them during business recovery, going beyond ‘good enough’ security measures to ensure their employees remain secure against sophisticated threat activity regardless of where they are located,” said Sherif El Nabawi, VP, Engineering, APJ, CrowdStrike. “In the new business normal, it is then vital to implement solutions that can be quickly deployed at scale to detect new threats, adhere to new regulations, and leverage the cloud so they can be easily and remotely managed.”

Top 3 threats to business

CrowdStrike also reveals that 3 in 4 business leaders consider cyber-attacks to be among the top 3 threats to their business over the next six months, even more so than current trade tensions and climate change. With the top two concerns across the board being economic conditions (81%) and new waves of COVID-19 infections (85%), cybersecurity remains business-critical.

Business leaders expect the top cybersecurity challenges expected in the next 18 months include remote workforce (70%), new regulation (66%) and costs of compliance (60%) with limited budgets (57%) and legacy infrastructure (54%) ranking not far behind.

While most organizations have changed their IT environments to accommodate remote workers, 37% still have not changed their security programs due to COVID-19, potentially exposing their organizations to cyber risks from new and more sophisticated attacks.

Work from home

As a result of working from home, 65% of local business leaders are concerned about a potential cyber-attack on their organization in the next six months. Forced to adapt and implement remote working arrangements due to public health concerns, 81% of local business leaders acknowledge that having a distributed workforce is a practical option moving forward. They now believe that it is possible for a workforce to collaborate and work together, regardless of where they are.

The report finds that 38% of respondents have their personal mobile devices connected to their organizations’ IT infrastructure when working from home, which means that an individual’s compromised personal device could jeopardize their employer’s corporate network.

Employee education and communications are key to a successful cybersecurity strategy, yet 22% of local business leaders do not know what to do in the event of a data breach. About 42% of local respondents also have not received communications about COVID-19 themed malware and 40% have not received additional security training. Moving forward, 91% of local business leaders say they plan on additional security training in the future.

As organizations look to the new normal, 79% of local business leaders believe that their organizations should invest more in building a remote work environment.