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

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

The study is based on an independent survey of over 3,700 business and information technology (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 per cent of affected SMBs in Vietnam have said that the biggest reason these attacks are successful is that current cybersecurity solutions are not adequate. Thirty-two per cent said they have no cybersecurity solutions in place.

Cisco Vietnam managing director Luong Thi Le Thuy said SMBs 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 SMBs 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, SMBs in Vietnam that suffered a cyber incident also lost employee data (67 per cent), internal emails (61 per cent), financial information (58 per cent), intellectual property (56 per cent), and sensitive business information (51per cent). In addition, 61 per cent admitted that cyberattacks have hurt their reputation.

Disruptions caused by cyber incidents can have serious implications for SMBs. 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. SMBs must be able to detect, investigate, and block or remediate any cyber incident in the shortest time possible,” said Cisco ASEAN cybersecurity director Juan Huat Koo.

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

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

Vietnamese SMBs 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 SMBs regarding cybersecurity. Some 87 per cent of Vietnamese SMBs 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.