Partnering to protect Singaporean SMEs on the frontlines of cybersecurity

October 11, 2021 | By Karthik Ramanathan

This article was originally published in The Business Times.

NEWS about cybercrime is so common these days that many of us have become desensitised to it. Unfortunately, this can result in complacency among those who are most at risk and the most vulnerable in our societies.

Cybercrime is a S$58 million problem annually in Singapore, according to a Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) report in 2020.

In the same year, an SME cyberpreparedness report by Chubb highlighted that 65 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) had fallen victim to cyberbreaches in the past. With small businesses focused on using their resources to recover from or just to get by due to the pandemic, it stands to reason that cybersecurity might not be top of mind for many.

Human error

Fortunately, 95 per cent of cyberbreaches were the result of human error, according to the IBM Threat Intelligence Report 2020.

Although it may not sound like it, this is actually a good thing. It implies that most security issues can be addressed simply through learning how to reduce human errors that make a business vulnerable to cyberattacks.

SMEs are at the frontline of security. Since they form a significant part of Singapore's business ecosystem and are entrusted with personal details of a large part of the population, cyberrisks to SMEs are, in effect, cyberrisks to everyone.

Since the start of the pandemic, businesses in Singapore and globally have shifted to become even more digital and interconnected. While this brings vast opportunities for growth, it also creates new points of entry through which criminals can attack.

In this digital economy, businesses do not just suffer singularly from the loss of data, information and other assets from cyberbreaches, they also have to grapple with the repercussions such as reputational damage and loss of trust.

For firms riding the wave of digital transformation, it pays to prioritise cybersecurity, whether it's through hardening infrastructure and/or educating their employees to be cyberconscious.

While the government - through CSA and other agencies - has been doing its part to help raise cybersecurity awareness in the public and business community, there is a lot more that enterprises can contribute to this effort.

This is why Mastercard and other companies are working with CSA in a private-public partnership that will enable businesses of all sizes to bolster their cybersecurity knowledge.

Through the new SG Cyber Safe Partnership Programme by CSA, Mastercard is helping to raise cybersecurity awareness and literacy in the community through the Mastercard Trust Center. Launched in 2021, it provides small businesses with cybersecurity solutions. It offers free and wide-ranging research, education, resources, and tools, along with Mastercard's own products geared towards helping small businesses secure digital operations.

By keeping themselves informed on cybersecurity best practices and by using simple tools, SMEs can minimise human errors that usually lead to cyberattacks.

The Trust Center has been designed to meet a broad range of needs based on users' existing cybersecurity expertise. Users can familiarise themselves with the fundamentals, expand on what they already know, or truly master cybersecurity.

The different learning pathways cover central cybersecurity concepts, cyberattack methods, and measures for protecting businesses, while the content includes engaging videos, podcasts, infographics, articles, white papers, and other tools.

Collective responsibility

However, providing secure infrastructure is not enough. With our wealth of knowledge, we have a major role to play in helping businesses of all types and sizes to bolster their own security.

We subscribe to the mantra that cybersecurity is a collective responsibility. Enterprises and organisations can, and should, help support the government in its efforts towards ensuring a secure cyberspace and building a trusted digital economy.

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Karthik Ramanathan, Senior Vice President, Cyber and Intelligence (C&I) Solutions, Asia Pacific , Mastercard