On May 31, Microsoft announced the launch of the Asia-Pacific Public Sector Cybersecurity Executive Council to unify policy makers from government and state agencies.
The purpose, according to the US software vendor, is to establish better communications between these organizations and facilitate the sharing of best practices, including a better exchange of threat intelligence and technology in a “timely and open manner.”
Upon the launch of the Executive Council, 15 policy makers from Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, and the Philippines have joined the council. The significance of bringing policy makers to the table is the opportunity to meet virtually every quarter to establish a “continuous” sharing of information on cyber threats and cybersecurity products.
In response to the spike in ransomware attacks in the APAC region, Microsoft says this Council is focused on the “higher-than-average encounter rate” for malware and ransomware attacks – 1.6 and 1.7 times higher respectively than the rest of the world.
For those members part of the Cybersecurity Executive Council, government agencies and state leaders will join a forum that includes Microsoft and our ecosystem of cybersecurity industry advisors, according to Microsoft’s blog post. As a concentrated effort, by sharing best practices, which include learning from Microsoft security certification training, dedicated workshops, and hands-on lab sessions, members are able to drive improvements to the digital skills of their respective workforce to reduce talent gap in cybersecurity.
“Cyberthreats and attacks are inevitable in this interconnected world, which is why our collective strength and collaboration as a community is imperative,” said Sherie Ng, General Manager, Public Sector, Microsoft Asia Pacific.
“[Monday’s] announcement is the first step towards defending our communities in cyberspace and I’m excited to announce the launch of the first APAC Public Sector Cybersecurity Executive Council with the founding members that include government leaders, policymakers, regulators, industry stakeholders across the region. Our joint mission is to build a strong coalition, to strengthen our cyber security defense.”
The second wave of digital transformation
Referencing its 2019 threat report, Microsoft indicated that developing markets like Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka were the most vulnerable to such threats.
Over the past year, Microsoft has witnessed a second wave of digital transformation, where governments have accelerated their adoption of technology initiatives to build resilience and transform, according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the Microsoft APAC Public Sector Summit in May.
During his keynote fireside chat, Nadella emphasized the need to have a strong digital foundation for the public sector to succeed, which requires adopting a data-driven strategy. Part of that strategy includes Microsoft’s ongoing commitments to the national empowerment plans in place from new data center regions in New Zealand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
“Cybersecurity is an important national agenda that cannot rely solely on the back of IT team,” said Dr. Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab FASc, CEO of Cybersecurity Malaysia. “It should be a priority and responsibility of all individuals, as we continue to see cyber-criminal activities rise exponentially with the proliferation of data and digital connectivity. This coalition certainly establishes stronger partnerships with industry leaders and practitioners that allow us to fortify our security postures and combat cybercrime.”
The future of our cybersecurity ecosystem
Looking at the numerous cybersecurity attacks that occurred throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time nations join forces for the collective good. With our world almost completely digital, it’s an infinite shopping spree for black hat attacks and other damaging attacks to critical global infrastructures.
“The collective intelligence amongst the Asia Pacific nations is paramount to jointly share best practices and strategies that will enable us to resolve cybersecurity challenges at a faster pace, and a more proactive manner,” said Ph.D. candidate ChangHee Yun, Principle Researcher of AIFuture Strategy Center, National Information Society Agency Korea.
“With similar threat landscapes, this partnership will ensure that we are steps ahead of the perpetrators, establishing higher standards for the cybersecurity eco-system as well.”
Also weighing into the recent launch of the Executive Council, was Group Captain Amorn Chomchoey, Acting Deputy Secretary General, National Cybersecurity Agency Thailand:
“The cybersecurity executive council is an instrumental platform for collaboration between our nations. I believe with the stronger relationships we will forge via this council will enable us to anticipate threats as early as possible, prevent them before the effects of cybercrime evolves into another “pandemic” for the cyberworld.”
This effort will build on existing efforts to strengthen cybersecurity partnerships in the Asia-Pacific, including through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Global Forum on Cyber Expertise.