Microsoft’s new APAC cybersecurity council: Where it fits in

Southeast Asia nations face higher malware and ransomware rates, so Microsoft is hoping to use its broad presence to build a region-wide coalition to improve defences.

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Microsoft recently announced its plans to establish the Asia Pacific Public Sector Cyber Security Executive Council, covering the countries of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. While the region has its cybersecurity challenges, Microsoft is hoping to build a region-wide coalition.

The council will bring together government agencies and state leaders in a forum that includes Microsoft in a region of developing markets with a higher-than-average rate of malware and ransomware attacks, siting at 1.6 and 1.7 times higher, respectively, compared the rest of the world, according to its own 2019 Security Endpoint Threat report. By contrast, developed markets face increased drive-by download attack volumes, the report found.

Microsoft taking on a quasi governmental role for cybersecurity

In announcing the new council, Sherie Ng, the general manager for public sector at Microsoft Asia Pacific, stressed the plan to drive collaboration and collective strength between regional countries in defending against threats. “Cyberthreats and attacks are inevitable in this interconnected world. … Our joint mission is to build a strong coalition, to strengthen our cybersecurity defense,” she said.

This initiative reflects Microsoft’s changing role, moving from providing software and networks to being responsible for keeping whole societies secure. Helaine Leggat, managing partner at ICT Legal Consulting Australia, tells CSO ASEAN “It was about five years ago, I first became aware of Microsoft’s changed attitude to cybersecurity. In my view, the company has moved from being merely a technology vendor to become the guardian of online societies. This includes forming this cybersecurity council and working with policy makers from governments in this region. Because their technology is ubiquitous, they are able to do this, and to also go after bad actors to resolve problems when working with governments around the world.”

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