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Singapore's Corporate Bosses Fret Over Cybersecurity Protections

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor , 21 January 2021

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A survey of senior business leaders at large companies in Singapore unearthed concerns that cybersecurity protections aren't robust enough.

A survey of corporate leaders in Singapore by law firm Hogan Lovells has found that most of them aren’t satisfied by safeguards to foil cybersecurity threats.

The firm polled 550 people globally, including heads of legal or equivalent, chief information security officers or equivalent, COOs and CEOs. In Singapore, it polled 20 business leaders. Across Asia as a whole, Hogan Lovells covered 130 business leaders.

More than half (57 per cent) of large corporations in Singapore do not consider the safeguards they have in place against major technology failure adequate post COVID-19, and many are not sufficiently prepared for the legal risks or reputational damage arising from tech failure, tech bias and data leaks.

Cybersecurity, particularly at a time when so many people now work from home and rely on the internet, remains a major issue, particularly for the wealth management and wider financial sector. A story just prior to the Christmas holidays illustrated the worries. Singapore’s main regulator in late December countered a newspaper article that voiced concerns about how the newly-launched Singapore Financial Data Exchange – aka SGFinDex – could sweep bank accounts and other data into a single site, creating a juicy target for thieves or other wrongdoers.

Some 75 per cent of businesses in Singapore said technology is a “core part” of their growth strategy, but only a quarter (25 per cent) are more than somewhat confident that their senior executives understand the associated risks. Some 44 per cent of respondent businesses in Singapore are not actively involved in preventing and mitigating technology failure.

The survey showed that only 20 per cent of boards in Singapore deem technology risk to be as important as financial and other traditional risks. 

Cyber attacks show that investing in tech can be legally risky, and the report found that compared with overall findings for Asia, where 64 per cent of corporations have not reviewed their cyber response plans within the last two years, Singapore fares better with only 28 per cent of businesses responding to the survey, lacking an up-to-date plan. 

However, more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of the Singapore-based organisations surveyed do not involve their legal teams in the creation of such plans.

The respondents were based in the US (100), the UK (100), Germany (100), France (100), China (45), Japan (45), Hong Kong (20), Singapore (20), Italy (10) and Spain (10). 

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