Palo Alto Networks: Philippines leads ASEAN in disruptive cyberattacks Palo Alto Networks Logo.png

Global cybersecurity leader Palo Alto Networks just released its highly anticipated “2023 State of Cybersecurity ASEAN” report during a media briefing this week. The report sheds light on the cybersecurity landscape in the ASEAN region, highlighting the Philippines as one of the countries grappling with the highest number of disruptive cyberattacks alongside Malaysia.

According to the findings, 29% of local organizations in the Philippines experienced a worrisome surge of 50% or more in disruptive cyber incidents over the past year. These attacks have raised significant concerns about the security of operations technology (OT), particularly within critical infrastructures, which witnessed a disproportionate share of these disruptions compared to other sectors.

The primary threat vectors plaguing Filipino organizations are malware (66%), phishing and spear-phishing attacks (63%), and password-related breaches (56%). The growing reliance on cloud-based services and applications has amplified the challenges faced by local businesses, making them more susceptible to a range of cyber risks, including risks stemming from digital transactions (50%), personal devices or home networks accessing corporate networks (49%), and the need to acquire a wider array of cybersecurity solutions (44%).

The report underscores the continued prioritization of cybersecurity among Filipino businesses, with 56% of local organizations disclosing that cybersecurity is a recurring topic at the board level every month. In addition, some 68% of Filipino enterprises have expanded their cybersecurity budgets, a move triggered by the increasing pace of digitalization (53%) and the need to adhere to new or evolving regulations mandating stricter data privacy measures (48%).

“It is great to see the confidence across ASEAN and in the Philippines in their security measures. This indicates that businesses have and are continuing to build resilience against evolving cyber-attacks. However, confidence must be coupled with caution. Taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity is the need of the hour, which will need an all-hands-on-deck initiative with active participation from everyone within the organization,” according to Oscar Visaya, Country Manager for the Philippines at Palo Alto Networks.

While confidence in cybersecurity measures appears to be a common thread across various industry sectors in the Philippines, it is particularly pronounced in the Services (Banking and Financial) and Transport and Logistics sectors. However, despite this confidence, a substantial 51% of organizations based in the Philippines believe they are at high risk from cybersecurity threats. This paradox may be attributed to the fact that 90% of local organizations express confidence in their adopted security measures. Notably, small to medium-sized enterprises exhibit relatively lower confidence in their ability to navigate cybersecurity challenges, primarily due to budget constraints and a shortage of in-house cybersecurity expertise.

In response to the ever-evolving threat landscape, Filipino organizations have implemented various cybersecurity strategies in the past year, including cloud security adoption (44%), identity and access management (44%), and the adoption of a security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) strategy (41%). Furthermore, organizations with operations technology (OT), such as those within essential services, have embraced unified IT/OT cybersecurity teams to bolster their security posture and enable swifter responses to cyber incidents.

On a regional level, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) emerges as a dominant technology trend among businesses in the ASEAN region, particularly within the Telco/Tech/Communications industries. This trend mirrors the approach of Filipino organizations, with 54% indicating their intention to explore AI integration, encompassing machine learning, predictive analytics, voice recognition, and sentiment analytics, in the next one to two years.

The technology company also emphasized the importance of education in combating cybersecurity issues in the Philippines. As the country continues its rapid digital transformation, the need for a skilled cybersecurity workforce has become paramount. Palo Alto Networks’ expertise and technologies can play a pivotal role in safeguarding local organizations and individuals from cyberattacks. However, without a strong foundation in cybersecurity education, these tools may remain underutilized. Promoting education in this field is crucial for empowering Filipinos to understand, mitigate, and respond effectively to cyber threats, ultimately fortifying the nation’s digital resilience and security.