Mr Tan Kiat How, CEO of IMDA, raised the issue of cyber threats as Singapore moves towards a digital economy. (Image credit: Team8)
By Linda Lim
What if, instead of placing more locks on one “door”, there were fifty “doors” for online burglars to choose from? What if you could re-architect endpoints, so that a breach does not matter? And finally, how can we see cybersecurity as an opportunity rather than a threat?
Attendees at the inaugural Rethink Cyber event held in May were challenged to throw their assumptions to the wind and rethink cybersecurity in the years ahead.
The forum, co-hosted by Team8, Temasek, Singtel, SGX and CIO Academy, attracted prominent chief information officers, chief information security officers, cyber innovators, policymakers and security officials.
Mr Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority, asked participants to consider cyber threats and opportunities together in order to thrive in the new digital economy.
The overall message was clear: Every organisation needs to be “digitally enhanced” – and to become a “digital” organisation, cybersecurity must be a priority.
What’s in the future
Cybersecurity is a growing industry, with eye-popping amounts of money going into stopping cyber attacks around the world. In Asia, cybersecurity spending is expected to hit US$30 billion by 2020, with Asia Pacific to experience more than 10% CAGR, according to a report by MicroMarketMonitor. Up to S$570 million was spent on cybersecurity in Singapore in 2015 alone, according to PwC.
That’s why being in the cybersecurity business can be a competitive advantage in the digital economy. “Cybersecurity has become a growth engine for many companies in Singapore – as a foundation for innovation as well as to create a more secure space to thrive and grow in the digital era,” said Mr Tan.
His sentiment was echoed by Mr Nadav Zafir, CEO of Team8 and former Head of Unit 8200, who pointed out that Singapore’s efforts to boost innovation and become a Smart Nation is supported by their extremely robust and holistic view of cybersecurity.
Ms Jacqueline Poh, Chief Executive of GovTech, made clear that a Smart Nation future comes with challenges, which must be overcome for the initiative to succeed.
Singapore aims to build a network of thousands of sensors to collect and connect data on everything from traffic to human movements. But these points, she said, are open to attacks, such as data theft, corruption or a sudden data deluge.
“With recent advances in AI and deep learning, GovTech is not shying away from investing in game-changing cybersecurity technology, to challenge ourselves and to push the boundaries of what intelligent agents can do to create more autonomous cybersecurity solutions to detect vulnerabilities and patch them in real-time with minimal human intervention,” she said, hinting at what is to come.
Possible solutions, such as in the “route of trust” by requiring authentication and authorisation to access, manage and secure data, were also discussed at the event. Others include blockchain technology and analytics through crowdsourcing sensors.
Mr Ofer Israeli, Co-Founder and CEO of Illusive Networks, a cybersecurity start-up incubated and launched by Team8, shared the company’s use of “deception” technology. Essentially, Illusive Networks builds “deceptive” frameworks that identify and trap malicious hackers by masking and adding fake routes, or “doors”, through a company’s networks. Step on the wrong path and the alarm is triggered. This, Ofer said, works better than trying to lock down the one obvious route.
Mr Tal Zamir, founder and CEO of Hysolate, incubated by Team8, shared his cybersecurity startup’s innovative solution to reframe and redesign thoughts about endpoint security.
Hysolate uses virtualisation technologies in network segmentation to smoothly compartmentalise a desktop environment into several operating systems, so that any security breach is limited to a single operating system, thus reducing the impact of breaches. He described it as “hypervision with a seamless experience”.
Such advances and innovations can only mean one thing: there is business in cybersecurity. And as the cornerstone of the digital economy and interconnected world, cybersecurity looks set to become the biggest worry, but at the same time, prime focus, for most organisations.