Microsoft launched the first Asia-Pacific cybersecurity council to build a strong, coordinated response against cybercrime in the region.  

The Asia Pacific Public Sector Cyber Security Executive Council consists of 15 policy makers from seven countries, including the Philippines, who will boost public-private partnerships in cybersecurity, address cyber threats, and share solutions. 

“Cybersecurity is an important national agenda that cannot rely solely on the back of an IT (information technology) team,” said Dato’ Ts. Dr. Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab, chief executive officer of CyberSecurity Malaysia and one of the council’s founding members, during a cybersecurity panel in the Microsoft APAC Public Sector Summit this May.  

Cybercrime causes trillions of dollars in financial losses and operational impacts to individual and business victims. According to Microsoft’s Security Endpoint Threat Report in 2019, the Asia-Pacific region experienced malware attacks 1.6 times higher and ransomware attacks 1.7 times higher than the rest of the world.   

In the Philippines, internet security firm Kaspersky reported that ransomware attacks on small and medium businesses in the declined by 15.17% in 2020; it qualified, however, that the dip was due to a shift to quality rather than quantity  meaning more aggressive and targeted attacks.  

“The collective intelligence amongst the APAC nations is paramount to jointly share best practices and strategies that will enable us to resolve cybersecurity challenges at a faster pace and a more proactive manner,” said ChangHee Yun, a principal researcher of Korea’s National Information Society Agency. The coalition, he added, can help members get ahead of the perpetrators and establish higher standards for the cybersecurity eco-system.  

A forum for government agencies, state leaders, and cybersecurity industry advisors will allow the council to share their experiences and knowledge relating to cyber threats. Microsoft said that this will build on existing efforts to strengthen partnerships through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise. — Brontë H. Lacsamana