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Corporate Espionage Risks In Southeast Asia Are Intense

September 22, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

If the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were measured as a single economic bloc it would rank fifth largest in the world for nominal GDP. This isn’t a small feat for a diverse region where every possible form of government–be it absolutist monarchy or a city state–can be found. But doing business in Southeast Asia isn’t as easy as some sparkling ads suggest.

There’s a sinister gray zone in the private sector of each major ASEAN economy. Crime is rife and the forms it takes will give any executive a lot of sleepless nights. Here are the industries at greatest risk from corporate espionage.


These two particular industries can expect to thrive in the coming years as governments raise spending on public works that accelerate economic growth. Unfortunately, the strategic value of natural resources–oil, gas, and renewables–coupled with the need for brand new infrastructure throughout ASEAN make energy firms prime targets for malicious actors. It doesn’t help that political disputes can impact companies who are operating in sensitive locations. This is why major players in construction and energy must have the foresight to anticipate zero days; those terrifying moments when their sensitive data is breached…or stolen.


It’s no use mincing words. Banks are in for a rough decade. As disruptive innovation sweeps the financial sector and cashless societies emerge across Southeast Asia, the rise of uncontrollable cybertheft adds so much pressure on financial institutions to not be boring and conservative. Retail banks in particular need to up their game and have best practices in place against fraud and the hacking of client data. Brokerages and investment firms, on the other hand, are irresistible targets because of their high net worth patrons and must prepare accordingly.


As startups spread like mushrooms in Southeast Asia’s megacities and achieve mainstream success, their intellectual property becomes at risk. Even small bootstrapped operations need best practices and core values in place to withstand the efforts of malicious actors. Since the “high tech” sector may involve not just software but the operations of other critical industries, their security must be strong enough against breaches, hacks, infiltration, and subversion. A tall order? It’s almost impossible to defend against all these threats at once, to be honest.


Telcos are in a bind too. They often run critical infrastructure vital to the functioning of a state and their operations oversee data flows needed by businesses. Given how most telecommunications utilities are vulnerable to disruption, however, securing them seems extremely difficult. It is. And there’s enough evidence showing political, rather than criminal, motivations are behind most cyberattacks and breaches on telcos. But strict security policies must be applied because if telcos are compromised, a national security threat might be underway. This is unacceptable.

Medium and large business operations who must navugate threat scenarios are best served by veteran risk professionals. In the Philippines, Adsum Risk Consulting (ARC) is renowned for its track record. The company was founded by John F. Walker, a US Air Force veteran and certified CISM and CSO, after three decades working in collaboration with various law enforcement and spy agencies. His bonafides in risk consulting were honed over a decade working for the biggest names in corporate security like G4S, Pinkerton, and Pointer. Since launching ARC, the firm has developed three broad risk specializations: business, information, and security. If your organization needs a risk consultant ARC can be reached here.

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