At least one out of four Philippine firms are exposed to a rising incidence of disruptive attacks, making the country the worst place in Southeast Asia in terms of cybersecurity defense.

Palo Alto Networks, in its cybersecurity report for ASEAN, named the Philippines and Malaysia as the countries in the region with the highest number of malicious attacks.

In the Philippines, it said 29 percent of organizations sustained an increase of 50 percent or more in digital attacks, and half believe that they are facing cybersecurity risks.

Across multiple industries, Palo Alto Networks said most of the attacks on Philippine firms came in the form of malware at 66 percent. Respondents also lamented phishing attempts (63 percent) and password theft (56 percent).

Half of local organizations think that the expanding use of digital transactions exposes them to a number of cybersecurity risks. Palo Alto Networks said that 49 percent are also wary of opening their corporate networks using personal devices.

Meanwhile, 44 percent said they have to purchase cybersecurity solutions to strengthen the defenses of their business platforms.

On the other hand, around nine in every 10 Philippine firms are confident that their cybersecurity measures can detect and withstand future attacks.

'Smaller businesses are less confident in coping with cybersecurity challenges due to constrained cybersecurity budgets and relatively weaker in-house cybersecurity talents,' Palo Alto Networks said.

Palo Alto Networks regional vice president for ASEAN Steven Scheurmann said criminal groups are regularly adjusting their strategies. As such, he told Philippine organizations to keep on raising their cybersecurity capabilities.

'In many parts of ASEAN, including in the Philippines, SMEs (small and medium enterprises) form the backbone of the economy. It is imperative for them to update their security capabilities, and an actionable incident is the first step toward redefining security strategy,' Scheurmann said.

In Southeast Asia, Palo Alto Networks observed the highest level of risk exposure in banking at 60 percent, followed by manufacturing, telco and government.

In formulating its cybersecurity report, Palo Alto Networks surveyed the insights of 500 firms in the region: 100 each from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

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