Singapore firms could have lost billions that would amount to 6% of the country’s GDP through cyberattacks

Cyber attacks on companies in Singapore could have amounted to $17.7 billion in economic damage in 2017.

Some local companies may not realise the severity but cyber security could lead to major financial losses.

According to a study which Microsoft commissioned Frost & Sullivan, it found that cyber attacks on companies in Singapore last year could potentially amount to a staggering $17.7 billion (S$23.8 billion) in economic damage. That figure would account for 6% of Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The study, titled “Understanding the Cybersecurity Threat Landscape in Asia Pacific: Securing the Modern Enterprise in a Digital World”, was conducted with 1,300 business and IT decision makers ranging from mid-sized organisations (250 to 499 employees) to large-sized organisations (more than 500 employees) across the Asia Pacific region.

Key findings showed that more than half of the 100 organisations in Singapore surveyed have either experienced a cybersecurity incident (20%) or are not sure if they had one as they have not performed proper forensics or data breach assessment (33%).

The study found that a large-sized organisation, which typically has around 500 employees, in Singapore can possibly incur an average economic loss of $13.8 million from such an attack.

Cybersecurity attacks have also resulted in job losses across different functions in six in 10  organisations that have experienced an incident over the last 12 months.

Edison Yu, vice president and Asia Pacific head of enterprise for Frost & Sullivan, says: “Although the direct losses from cybersecurity breaches are most visible, they are but just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other hidden losses that we have to consider from both the indirect and induced perspectives, and the economic loss for organisations suffering from cybersecurity attacks can be often underestimated.”

Richard Koh, the chief technology officer at Microsoft, added:“As companies increasingly embrace the opportunities presented by the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge, they must also embrace modern mindsets and approaches to security.”

In addition to financial losses, cybersecurity incidents are also threatening Singapore organisations’ ability to capture future opportunities in today’s digital economy, with one in two respondents stating that their enterprise has put off digital transformation efforts due to the fear of cyber-risks.

Artificial intelligence (AI), however, is becoming a potent opponent against cyberattacks as it can detect and act on threat vectors based on data insights; and the study revealed that 71% of organisations in Singapore have either adopted or are looking to adopt an AI approach towards boosting cybersecurity.