How Southeast Asian governments are boosting cybersecurity cooperation

ASEAN countries are forging ahead with increasing cooperation to fortify the regional cyberspace even in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like most parts of the world, Southeast Asia has been in various states of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic for most of 2020. However, even in the midst of this crippling crisis, cybersecurity has remained a key priority for the governments in this region, in addition to managing the fallout of the pandemic.

During this period, various Southeast Asian governments and intergovernmental associations have announced joint efforts to improve cybersecurity, tackle cybercrime, and create more consistency aross the region.

One of the key drivers behind this cybersecurity agenda is the mission-critical role that data increasingly plays in this economically important region. Factors like the rise of 5G and the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning by organisations in Southeast Asian countries make it crucial for governments in the region to take steps to safeguard their economies.

As organisations adopt digital transformation, they have to deal with exponentially growing amounts of data and complex new technologies. This gives rise to not only data management and storage challenges, but has security and regulatory implications.

At the same time, cybersecurity is not just a technical issue, but has geopolitical implications, as David Koh, Singapore’s first commissioner of cybersecurity and chief executive of the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of Singapore, points out: “Critical technologies, starting with basic infocomm technologies and communications infrastructure, to emergent ones such as 5G, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing, and the associated cyberrisks they portend, provide conduits to impact a country’s national security, economic progress, and societal values.”

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