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Over half of SMEs suffer cyber attacks in the past year

As businesses digitalise their operations in response to COVID-19, cyberattacks are on the rise too. Over half of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Vietnam have been victims of cyberattacks in the past year, according to a study by Cisco Secure.

According to its study, 59 percent SMEs in Vietnam suffered a cyber attack in the past year, of which 86 percent lost customer information to malicious hackers.

The study is based on an independent survey of over 3,700 business and IT leaders across 14 markets in the Asia-Pacific, including 152 in Vietnam. The survey highlighted the multitudes of ways in which attackers can try to infiltrate online systems.

Thirty-nine percent of affected SMEs in Vietnam have said that the biggest reason these attacks are successful is that current cybersecurity solutions are not adequate. Thirty-two percent said they have no cybersecurity solutions in place.

Luong Thi Le Thuy, Managing Director of Cisco Vietnam, said that SMEs in the country have increased their pace of digitisation over the past 18 months. This has been driven by the need to leverage technology to continue to operate during the pandemic.

This digitisation has created a critical need for SMEs to invest in capabilities that safeguard themselves against cyberattacks. The more digital they become, the more attractive a target they are for malicious actors, she said.

Besides the loss of customer data, SMEs in Vietnam that suffered a cyber incident also lost employee data (67 percent), internal emails (61 percent), financial information (58 percent), intellectual property (56 percent), and sensitive business information (51percent). In addition, 61 percent admitted that cyberattacks have hurt their reputation.

Disruptions caused by cyber incidents can have serious implications for SMEs. Downtime of less than one hour usually has a severe impact on revenue, while downtime of more than a day can result in permanent closure.

“We are living in a world where customers seek instant gratification. They no longer have the patience for lengthy downtimes. SMEs must be able to detect, investigate, and block or remediate any cyber incident in the shortest time possible,” said Juan Huat Koo, Director Cybersecurity, Cisco ASEAN.

Cisco’s study found that while SMEs in Vietnam are worried about cyberattacks, they are taking steps to improve their cybersecurity.

According to the study, 88 percent of SMEs have completed scenario planning or simulations for potential cybersecurity incidents in the past 12 months. The majority have a planned response to cyberattacks (89 percent) and recovery plans (88 percent) in place.

Vietnamese SMEs are also increasingly aware that the biggest cyber threat comes from unsecured laptops and the use of personal devices.

The good news is there are now strong levels of investment by SMEs regarding cybersecurity. Some 87 percent of Vietnamese SMEs have increased their investment in cybersecurity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Cybersecurity is evolving rapidly. This is being driven by trends like expanding attack surfaces, moving to multi-clouds, the rise of hybrid work, as well as new security requirements and regulations," said Kerry Singleton, Managing Director, Cybersecurity, Asia Pacific, Japan, China, Cisco./.