Cyber threats could outpace traditional approaches to data security: MyDIGITAL CEO

As economies shift to digital and online models, cybersecurity threats can quickly outpace traditional approaches to data security, said MyDIGITAL Corp chief executive officer (CEO) Fabian Bigar.

To counter this, he said governments and organisations should seek to be proactive in creating and adapting systems to face these cyber threats. 

“The global direct monetary losses to cybercrime in 2020 were estimated to have nearly doubled to US$945 million (US$1=RM4.22) from US$522 million in 2018.

“The full economic costs of cybercrime including direct, indirect and upstream systems in 2020 have been estimated to be around US$4 trillion, about 4% of the global gross domestic product (GDP),” he said in his opening keynote address at the “Cybersecurity and Trust” webinar on Thursday (April 7).

The webinar was co-organised by KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific and Huawei.

Bigar elaborated that spending on cybersecurity in 2020 was expected to exceed US$145 billion, together comprising about 1.3% of the global GDP.

In 2017, cybercrime costs Africa an estimated US$3.5 billion through indirect losses, he said. 

“These estimates exclude indirect costs to victims, such as opportunity cost, downtime, loss of efficiency, brand disparagement, loss of trust, intellectual property infringement and damage to employee morale.

“They also exclude systemic costs such as supply chain impacts on upstream suppliers and downstream customers,” he said. 

Bigar went on to say that apart from the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which currently does not cover data collected by the government, Malaysia does not have any other data privacy laws.

“In the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint, (however) the government plans to review the PDPA,” he said.

He noted that several countries around the world have privacy laws that extend to government data, such as the South African Protection and Personal Information Act, the Indian Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 and the New Zealand Privacy Act 2020.

Meanwhile, citing studies conducted by the Fletcher School Digital Planet team in the United States, he said “trust” is defined as the leap of faith and the confidence that causes users to exercise a choice to interact, transact and consume online.

“The loss of digital trust suggests that many people are worried about the role of technology in their lives currently.

“This is especially relevant at a time when millions of people around the world have shifted to online learning, telemedicine, remote work, and e-commerce to counter the restrictions brought about by the pandemic,” he said.

Bigar said economies with high digital momentum tend to have less secure digital environments and users often have greater privacy concerns.

“This means that as economies wrap up their digital momentum, it is especially important for government and business leaders to take steps to address privacy and security issues that may impact users.

“However, the onus is not only on the regulators and the industry to determine security to foster trust in our collective digital ecosystem,” he said.

He explained that since the vast majority of digital content is user generated, much of the security and data privacy comes from how individuals engage with these systems.

He believes that public awareness and education are essential elements of effective cybersecurity in enhancing the awareness of cyber risks and misinformation among users.

“Malaysia needs to fully leverage a fast-growing digital economy as a key strategy for economic recovery, which means attracting more investment in digitalisation.

“The Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint sets the roadmap to achieve an inclusive digital Malaysia and we must all play our part in ensuring the successes in gaining and ensuring trust,” he said. 

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