A Look at the Cybersecurity Industry: Its Potential and Problems

In late 2016, Singapore cybersecurity start-up Apvera concluded a successful round of seed fundraising, generating US$1.2 million in investment1. The company taps on automation and machine learning to pre-empt threats, in turn helping financial services companies to safeguard their intellectual properties, repositories of client information and infrastructures. For entrepreneurs in the cybersecurity industry, Apvera’s success should come as an encouragement.

Each and every one of us has a digital carbon copy. We work, play and live on the cyber sphere, embracing phenomena such as cloud-based workflows, smart living, online gaming as well as digital health and fitness. By 2025, our digital twins will collectively generate 163 trillion gigabytes of data a year2.

This trend has birthed a wave of cyberthreats — malicious hackers want to steal personal and critical information from private citizens and enterprises for monetary gains. In today’s milieu, the main cyberthreats that businesses should beware of include reverse deception tactics; sophisticated phishing campaigns; and distributed denial of service (DDoS) for hire services3.

With reverse deception tactics, cybercriminals use anti-analysis codes and steganography to conceal stolen data, thereby avoiding detection by security teams. In phishing campaigns, hackers use ransomware to encrypt important documents so that enterprises can no longer access them, and then extort money from the affected parties. Leveraging on botnet ecosystems, DDoS attacks involve inundating online services, such as banking or news websites, with traffic from multiple sources. In turn, the organisation’s customers or users cannot access the service, or experience very slow connectivity when doing so.

Whenever there is a compromise of information, companies are subject to lawsuits. All told, cybercrimes will cost the economy US$6 trillion per year from now to 20214. But beyond the monetary damage, businesses that suffer data breaches have to deal with repercussions such as damaged investor perception. Brand loyalty will dwindle too, as customers lose trust and switch brands.

Advocating a Proactive Approach to Cybersecurity

With the influx of these increasingly-complex cyberthreats, cybersecurity has become a need, not just a luxury. That is why the expertise of companies such as Apvera is so highly sought after. In fact, Asia Pacific’s cybersecurity market is booming, registering a 12.1 per cent growth and is poised to reach close to US$31 billion by 20205.

Cybersecurity is to companies what regular health checks are to human beings. There is a need to diagnose and remedy potential problems before they balloon. When selling services to C-suites, cybersecurity businesses should help their clients understand current risks as well as the challenges megatrends such as Bring Your Own Device engender.

Also, organisations in certain sectors, such as financial services, are bound by strict regulatory compliance. Beyond the software — firewalls, intrusion and detection systems, anti-virus — they will need the expertise of analysts to monitor new security threats6. Here is where cybersecurity businesses can upsell their product offerings, from monitoring to assessment tools.

Manpower crunch a woe for cybersecurity businesses

While the demand for cybersecurity will accelerate, by 2022, there will be 1.8 million vacancies in the global cybersecurity workforce, as reported by Frost & Sullivan and (ISC)2. The success of any organisation is anchored on its team, so how can cybersecurity businesses ride this tide? Harvard Business Review7 opines that organisations need to expand their searches and look beyond the traditional credentials — that is, degrees in technology or computer sciences — when reviewing candidates. Hiring managers should also look beyond career fairs or job portals, and instead build partnerships with colleges and technical schools to establish a recruitment base.

Already ahead of the curve, IBM8 has recognised that hiring managers in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and cloud computing sectors have to shift their mindsets. It has created “New Collar” jobs, prioritising skills as a more important criterion than degrees. Candidates go for coding camps, and continuously improve their skills via development and training programmes. Indeed, if the goal is to build an A-team, then cybersecurity businesses need to recruit candidates with a thirst for learning as well as traits such as curiosity, knack for problem solving and great ethics.


1 Singapore Startup Apvera Raises US$1.2M to Automate Cybersecurity: https://e27.co/singapore-startup-apvera-raises-us1-2m-automate-cybersecurity-20161116/

2 What Will We Do When the World’s Data Hits 163 Zettabytes In 2025?: https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewcave/2017/04/13/what-will-we-do-when-the-worlds-data-hits-163-zettabytes-in-2025/#4e884f04349a

3 Accenture Security Report Identifies Top Cyber Threats of 2017: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170725005441/en/Accenture-Security-Report-Identifies-Top-Cyber-Threats

4 The True Cost of Cybercrime for Businesses: https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2017/07/13/the-true-cost-of-cybercrime-for-businesses/#30a391a49476

5 Asia-Pacific Cyber Security Market is Expected to Reach USD 30.39 Bn by 2020: http://www.cloudsecurityexpoasia.com/industry-news-xow0/asia-pacific-cyber-security-market-is-expected-to-reach-usd-3039-bn-by-2020

6 Tips for Selling Security: http://www.computerweekly.com/microscope/feature/Tips-for-selling-security

7 Cybersecurity Has a Serious Talent Shortage. Here’s How to Fix It: https://hbr.org/2017/05/cybersecurity-has-a-serious-talent-shortage-heres-how-to-fix-it

8 The Tech Industry Is Evolving, It’s about Time Hiring Evolved with It: https://www.ibm.com/blogs/policy/tech-industry-hiring-new-collar/