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Small and medium-sized enterprises approach cyber-secure future

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should strive to build better cybersecurity infrastructure, capabilities and culture.



While Viet Nam develops its digital economy, local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should build better cybersecurity infrastructure, capabilities and culture, experts have said.

Attending a recent event on cybersecurity awareness for Vietnamese SMEs, in Ha Noi, Chairman of the Viet Nam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (VINASME) Nguyen Van Than cited research data from his association saying: “Up to 70 per cent of SMEs in Viet Nam are operating outside of the digital economy and only around 20 per cent are tentatively exploring it”.

The event, held by the association, RMIT University and the Vietnam Information Security Association (VNISA), drew together key stakeholders from Viet Nam and Australia to share experience and findings from studies on cybersecurity awareness among businesses in both countries.

The organisers also announced an upcoming survey to assess the cybersecurity readiness of Vietnamese businesses.

The discussion helped identify current gaps in an information security capacity, thereby highlighting the need for skills development, workforce preparation and transformation to support Viet Nam in embracing information security.

Than from VINASME said: “The understanding of and actions towards the digital economy is still relatively slow, uneven and inconsistent among businesses. Thus, it’s imperative and urgent to popularise the idea of the digital economy and support Vietnamese businesses on their way to embrace it."

He said "it is a vital task” and emphasised cybersecurity awareness as an aspect of operating the digital economy.

“I highly value the topic of discussion as the experts have foreseen a downside of Industry 4.0, namely cyber risks for businesses,” he said.

Presenting a 2021 review and 2022 forecast of the cybersecurity landscape in Viet Nam, director of the Institute of Information Security Technology under VNISA and Vice President of BKAV Ngo Tuan Anh revealed that Viet Nam recorded about 70.7 million computer virus infections in 2021.

Anh considered this a red alert for the state of cybersecurity in Viet Nam, adding that the damage Vietnamese computer users suffered due to viruses continued to be very high, reaching VND24.4 trillion (around US$1.06 billion) last year.

“The use of computers and smart devices in Viet Nam has increased dramatically due to COVID-19, creating an ideal environment for computer viruses to break out and spread rapidly,” he said.

He also pointed out that supply chain attacks have become a global trend.

“Most of the attacks last year were on large scale and targeted globally-known organisations and businesses,” Anh said.

RMIT Senior Lecturer Pham Cong Hiep drew on findings from the “2021 State of Cyber Fitness in Australian Small Businesses” whitepaper, of which RMIT University was a co-author.

The study shows that the cybersecurity readiness of Australian SMEs is not very high despite their rapid digitisation during the pandemic.

Only 26 per cent of businesses felt they had done enough to keep their business safe from cybersecurity incidents, while 33 per cent felt that they hadn’t. Notably, 77 per cent of respondents felt directly responsible for cyber risks.

“An understanding of the factors affecting cybersecurity readiness is crucial to devising appropriate solutions for businesses to improve the current low level of cyber fitness among most SMEs,” Hiep said.

The upcoming nationwide survey conducted by RMIT University, VNISA and VINASME will look at issues such as cyber risks, technology adaptation, cybersecurity awareness, skills to prevent and confront cyber threats, and funding for cybersecurity activities.

The survey is expected to contribute towards building better cybersecurity infrastructure, capabilities, and culture in the SME community.

At the event, the RMIT Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation (CCSRI) also officially announced the establishment of its Viet Nam Hub, led by Hiep.

Aiming to promote a truly multidisciplinary approach to the organisational, human and technology aspects of cybersecurity, the Hub will offer many opportunities for RMIT and local organisations to collaborate on research projects and corporate training, as well as deliver joint events and workshops with cyber experts across Australia and Viet Nam

Up to the end of 2020, Viet Nam was home to 810,000 enterprises, 98 per cent of which are SMEs.

In early 2021, the Government assigned the Ministry of Planning and Investment to develop a resolution about developing enterprises in 2021-2025, which aims to have 1.5 million firms by 2025, of which 15 to 20 are private and have a capitalisation of more than US$1 billion.

Talking to the local media, economic expert Ngo Tri Long said Viet Nam was looking to develop big enterprises to lead the economy but SMEs still played a very important role in the economy.

Source: VNS

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