Date
30 March 2017
Asia's latest push toward stronger cyber security is typified by SingTel's US$800 million deal to acquire US security service provider TrustWave. Photo: WSJ
Asia's latest push toward stronger cyber security is typified by SingTel's US$800 million deal to acquire US security service provider TrustWave. Photo: WSJ

Asia cyber defense spending seen outpacing world average

Spending on cyber security is on the rise in Asia where growth could outpace the world average this year.

The latest to take the plunge is Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel), Southeast Asia’s biggest telecom company by revenue, which is buying United States cyber security provider Trustwave Holdings Inc. for US$800 million.

The deal, announced Wednesday, follows recent high-profile breaches of companies such as Home Depot Inc., health insurer Anthem Inc. and Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Hackers also targeted Malaysia Airlines’ website in January.

In March, South Korean investigators said state-owned Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. and its business partners were targeted in cyber attacks aimed at stealing internal data that included plant blueprints and employees’ personal information.

Korea Hydro operates South Korea’s 23 nuclear reactors.

Executives and analysts in Asia say they are increasingly contemplating their digital defenses in light of more-frequent attacks.

US cyber security company FireEye Inc. said in a March report that across the Asia-Pacific region, 37 percent of its customers were targeted by advanced malware attacks and other disruptions between July and December.

The percentage was 60 percent in Hong Kong and 52 percent in South Korea. The global average was 27 percent.

Companies globally and specifically in Asia are “investing more to build up their cyberdefenses”, said Lyon Poh, head of information technology assurance and security at consultancy KPMG in Singapore.

This has led to “opportunities for cybersecurity firms and we believe that more will look to Asia for growth”, he said.

In January, research firm Gartner projected global information security spending would rise 7.6 percent this year to US$79.9 billion and 36 percent by 2018 to US$101 billion.

Throughout the Asia-Pacific region, spending is forecast to increase 9.7 percent this year to US$17.9 billion. It is projected to rise 45 percent from 2014 to US$23.8 billion by 2018.

SingTel’s deal follows FireEye’s purchase of closely held cyber security company Mandiant Corp. for US$1 billion last year.

In 2013, Cisco Systems Inc. bought US security company Sourcefire Inc. for US$2.7 billion.

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