Building trusted, secure and ethical digital environment for M’sian SMEs

THE Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDIGITAL) specifically sets out to map the importance of cybersecurity, listing it under one of the six main thrusts of the blueprint – to build trusted, secure and ethical digital environment.

Cybersecurity sets the foundation from which businesses and enterprises can operate and grow in a safe and secure digital environment.

New working arrangement in the new norm, ie working from home, has also contributed to the surge in cyberattacks.

Most SMEs (small medium sized enterprises) utilise a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) approach, which significantly exposes valuable data and information to cyberattacks and various malicious forms of intrusion. SMEs bear the brunt of these attacks.

As the world grapples with the effects brought about by the pandemic, malicious attacks and serious data breaches are also increasing at an alarming rate, compounding the situation and putting into sharp focus the criticality of having a robust cybersecurity system in place.

According to Deloitte, unseen (previously undocumented) malware or methods employed by hackers and cyber attackers have risen 30% during the pandemic as opposed to 20% pre-pandemic.

SMEs contribute a large percentage to our overall GDP (38.9%) in 2019 while the digital economy contributed 19.1% in the same period.

Thus it is imperative that we must ensure that the appropriate safeguards are in place.

For SMEs, cybersecurity adoption is no longer just an option but a necessity.

To put it in numbers, 84% of SMEs in Malaysia have been compromised in one way or another by cyber threat incidents and 76% SMEs have suffered more than one attack.

Cognisant of this situation, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) in collaboration with the National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) and SME Corporation Malaysia (SME Corp) have set out to develop and implement the MATRIX Cybersecurity for SME.

This programme, launched on June 28, 2021 by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob during Cyber Defence & Security Exhibition and Conference (CYDES) 2021, aims to boost cybersecurity adoption and implementation amongst SMEs from all sectors in Malaysia.

MATRIX is the first-of-its-kind in Malaysia and the region as it is designed specifically to facilitate acceleration of SME cybersecurity adoption.

This collaborative programme is a customised programme that is designed to fit with the DNA of SMEs. MATRIX will bridge the gap in cybersecurity adoption and as a result, ensures that businesses can continue to operate in a mitigated and safer environment.

A robust cybersecurity system will integrate the virtual and physical spaces securely, resulting in a balanced economic advancement which resonates with our vision of Malaysia 5.0 as a nation that is deeply integrated with technology, providing equitable digital opportunities to the people and businesses.

It is also in line with Malaysia’s National Cybersecurity Strategy.

The MATRIX programme has also taken into consideration the challenges faced by SMEs when it comes to adoption of cybersecurity measures ie the lack of funds and resources, limited access to expertise and tools, and the complexity of deployment and operation.

It sets out to assists SMEs end-to-end, identifying the potential gaps in cybersecurity, the priorities and offering a cost-effective measure.

The rapid growth of information and communication technology (ICT) and technology sovereignty bring with it a tremendous opportunity for Malaysia’s cyber-security industry. IDC, a global market research company, reported that cybersecurity spending for Malaysia reached RM2.6 bil (US$627 mil) in 2019 and is expected to exceed RM4 bil (US$1 bil) mark by 2024.

For the next five years, it is expected to remain robust and will see steady compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.5%. This is more than twice of the overall ICT spending in the country which stood at 5.7% for the same period.

As cybersecurity is a domain that is continuously evolving and improving, with new technologies, processes, and methods, it will continue to expand the in-flow of investments and accelerate the growth of Malaysia’s cybersecurity ecosystem.

With so much at stake, not only must we be vigilant but also have the corresponding countermeasure in place. – July 22, 2021


Aiza Azreen Ahmad is chief digital business officer of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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