Why Microsoft Launched the First APAC Cybersecurity Executive Council and What It Means

Back in May, Microsoft announced it would be launching the very first Asia-Pacific Public Sector Cybersecurity Executive Council to unify policy makers from government and state agencies. 

In efforts to establish better communication between these organizations and to facilitate the sharing of best practices, the council hopes to include a better exchange of threat intelligence and technology in a “timely and open manner.”

Looking back at Microsoft’s 2019 threat report, developing markets like Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka were considered to be the most vulnerable to today’s biggest cybersecurity attacks. According to the report, the APAC region experienced malware attacks at a rate 1.6 times higher and ransomware attacks 1.7 times higher than the rest of the world.

Consumers familiar with industry leading internet security firm, Kaspersky, might know that the company’s recent report revealed that ransomware attacks on small and medium businesses declined by 15.17% in 2020. The reason behind the drop, according to the report, had everything to do with the quality of the attack, rather than the quantity. In other words, the focus is on more aggressive and targeted attacks.

Over the past year, Microsoft has encountered a second wave of digital transformation, which Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says has accelerated the governments’ adoption of technology initiatives. Nadella spoke at the MIcrosoft APAC Public Sector Summit in May.

“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.

In emphasizing the importance of the newly established Council, Amorn Chomchoey, Acting Deputy Secretary General, National Cybersecurity Agency Thailand said that the “ . . . council is an instrumental platform for collaboration between our nations.”

He added: “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.”

The initial council includes 15 policy makers from Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, and the Philippines, who have all joined the council. By bringing these nations together, participating members will have the opportunity to meet virtually every quarter to establish what Microsoft considers to be a “continuous” sharing of information on cyber threats and cybersecurity products.

“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.

More importantly, this is an even bigger step towards the realization that our national security cannot rely solely on an IT team – it requires multiple layers of security with various mechanisms in place. 

“Cybersecurity is an important national agenda that cannot rely solely on the back of an IT [information technology] team,” said Dato’ Ts. Dr. Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab, chief executive officer of CyberSecurity Malaysia and one of the council’s founding members, during a cybersecurity panel in the Microsoft APAC Public Sector Summit this May.  

The Executive Council is the first step in Microsoft’s efforts to defend these communities in cyberspace.

“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.”

Andrew Rossow is a Legal Contributor at Lawrina. He is a practicing attorney, adjunct law professor, writer, and speaker on cybersecurity, digital monies, and privacy. Utilizing his millennial upbringing, Rossow provides a well-rounded perspective on legal and technology implications Bitcoin brings to the world of consumer finance. HIs work has been featured on Bloomberg News, Cheddar, CoinTelegraph, Law360, and numerous others. You can follow him on Twitter at @RossowEsq or visit his website AR Media Consulting.

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