Digital transformation (DX) is in full swing in Asia Pacific (APAC), where technology spending is forecasted to accelerate by 5.8% this year to reach US$732 billion. Despite the spotlight on digitalisation, cybersecurity remains a weak point for many, dampening the efficacy and returns that digitalisation promises to deliver.

According to the World Economic Forum, the average cost of cybercrime is expected to increase from US$8.4 trillion in 2022 to more than US$23 trillion in 2027, with APAC being the new ground zero for incidents. But even as the region continues to be a cybercrime hotspot, 90% of security executives in APAC still admit that their organisation falls short in addressing them.

Many find it difficult to convince their organisation of the importance of cybersecurity. For as long as cyberattacks do not hit home, it can be a real challenge to get businesses to invest enough resources to address cybersecurity risks.

While there is a lack of proactive action taken to secure security strategies within organisations, it’s hard to pinpoint who is at fault, since rapid technological changes, complex regulations, geopolitical tensions, and economic uncertainties melt together to become a hindrance in the mission to prioritise cybersecurity.

Reinvent your DX strategy with cybersecurity

The proof is in the pudding: Accenture State of Cybersecurity Resilience 2023 report found that 30% are already proving how prioritising cybersecurity is crucial to an organisation’s success. By closely aligning cybersecurity programs to business objectives, they can better achieve their target revenue growth and market share, improve customer satisfaction and trust, and drive greater employee productivity.

Emphasising cybersecurity from the start boosts resilience and establishes a strong foundation for transformation. This is why a group of “cyber transformers”—organisations that embed key cybersecurity actions into their DX efforts and apply strong cybersecurity operational practices—are championing a change in attitudes towards cybersecurity risks. And these cyber transformers are 5.8 times more likely to experience effective DX compared to their peers.

On the other hand, those that treat cybersecurity as an add-on at the end of their DX efforts may end up paying a hefty price for their decision. For example, the discovery of an error due to poor app security during its coding phase can cost organisations five times more to fix, reaching up to 30 times what it would cost them had security has been addressed in the initial planning stages.

Achieving better business outcomes with top-notch cybersecurity practices

How do you effectively protect your business? To that, James Nunn-Price, Security Lead at Accenture in Asia Pacific, Africa, Middle East, and LATAM opines, “to excel, cybersecurity should be an integral part of your holistic enterprise risk management, a key focus for your supply chain and ecosystem, and heavily automated in detection and response processes.”

A common mistake organisations make is that they start looking into improving cybersecurity measures after they face an incident. At this point, a loss is already incurred. The conversation around cybersecurity should ideally occur right at the beginning and be embedded into the digital core. By agreeing on cybersecurity priorities from the get-go, employees can get familiar with them and experiment at scale while mitigating risks.

Cyber transformers often find success due to four key practices:

  1. They bridge cybersecurity operations and executive leadership, prioritising cybersecurity risk when evaluating overall enterprise risk
  2. They leverage cybersecurity-as-a-service instead of reinventing the wheel when it comes to enhancing their security operations
  3. They protect their ecosystem, often incorporating supply chain partners into their incident response plans and requiring stakeholders to meet strict cybersecurity practices
  4. They rely heavily on automation to automate cybersecurity practices, which tide them through the cyber talent shortage while remaining resilient

Weaving cybersecurity into the fabric of transformation

As technology progresses, so will the sophistication of cybercrimes—and likely at a faster pace. Generative AI comes with a heightened risk of compromise, including malicious content, high-speed contextual targeted attacks, misinformation at scale, and copyright infringement.

But on the flip side, the development of generative AI can also make cybersecurity more powerful and help organisations remain agile in a changing landscape.

“Generative AI drives a new wave of cybersecurity advancements, not just for attackers but defenders. In time, it could support enterprise governance and information security by understanding ‘what good looks like’ and therefore offer the rapid advancement of threat detection, analysis and response for unknown anomalies, reducing repetitive workload and augment staffing.”

James Nunn-Price, Security Lead at Accenture in Asia Pacific, Africa, Middle East, and LATAM

To truly be at the forefront of cybersecurity management, organisations need to implement generative AI within their cybersecurity architecture. Integrating cybersecurity practices into the larger ecosystem to protect against a wider threat surface across the cloud and legacy environments is also crucial. Re-examine the enterprise and customer identity to better bridge the physical and digital worlds and establish enhanced monitoring across legacy ad cloud environments.

Through implementing preventive measures from the get-go, organisations are safeguarding themselves and their stakeholders. It is hoped that the tables will turn against attackers with the growth of cybersecurity as a cornerstone of transformation so that organisations can spend their time innovating to serve customers better.