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Cybersecurity is essential in safeguarding the integrity and privacy of data, infrastructure, and organizations in today’s technological landscape, which is being driven by digital innovation. In response to the swift advancement of cyber threats, countries in Asia are strengthening their security measures by adopting emerging technologies, specifically artificial intelligence (AI), to counter more sophisticated cyberattacks and address the inadequate number of cybersecurity professionals.

According to Kaspersky, the Asia Pacific is currently experiencing a scarcity of 2.1 million cybersecurity specialists as of 2022. This highlights the necessity for interventions to strengthen digital safeguards against progressively-advanced threats. Thus, experts are recommending the use of AI in cybersecurity frameworks to address the shortage.

Deploying AI as a Defensive Strategy

The expanding scale and complexity of cyber threats has resulted in the inadequacy of existing defensive measures, highlighting the need for an overhaul towards proactive and adaptive solutions. The potential of AI dwells in its ability to enhance cyber security through data analysis, pattern recognition, and automation.

Countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore have pioneered efforts to focus on utilizing AI for added cybersecurity measures.

In 2020, Japan’s Ministry of Defense reportedly invested about USD 237.12 million in the development of advanced AI systems to protect the digital infrastructure of the country.

The Japanese government set out to create an extensive AI system capable of identifying malicious emails, coordinating automated responses to cyber-attacks through machine learning (ML) capabilities, and ultimately mitigating the impact of such attacks on both public and private organizations.

Japan's cybersecurity defense strategy also reportedly focused on acquiring a Cyber Information Gathering System. This system provides the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) with vital intelligence on the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) employed by cybercriminals. This enables the SDF to take proactive measures and make informed decisions in safeguarding against cyber threats.

Last year, Singapore introduced the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy (NAIS) 2.0, which serves as a robust framework in Asia’s battle against increasing cyber threats.

Singapore has also implemented a comprehensive governance framework that prioritizes transparency, safety, and accountability, building upon previous projects such as the Model AI Governance Framework and AI Verify. These frameworks prioritize security in the ongoing evolution of technology, ensuring that AI development remains centered around safeguarding systems and data.

Even the advanced defense of Singapore is susceptible to vulnerabilities posed by cyber threats. According to the Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey, 50% of small enterprises in Singapore believe that they are vulnerable to cyberattacks. This highlights the necessity for both strong governance and technological advancements in order to effectively address the growing concerns in cybersecurity.

Boosting Cybersecurity Capabilities

Meanwhile, an executive from Amazon Web Services believes that the Philippines has the potential to establish itself as a frontrunner in the field of cybersecurity by using the revolutionary capabilities of GenAI.

The Philippines has approximately 200 cybersecurity professionals, a stark contrast to the roughly 3,000 in Singapore. This underscores the significant potential for expansion and the cultivation of more talent in the cybersecurity field within the Philippines.

Microsoft has also shared its plans to provide training in AI technology and cybersecurity to 100,000 women in the Philippines, which could empower women in the IT sector and boost the country's cybersecurity capabilities.

The company also intends to implement an AI-driven reading progress tool for around 27 million children in the Philippines, in partnership with the Department of Education. This project was launched in response to a survey conducted by the World Bank in 2022, which showed that 90% of ten-year-old Filipino students face difficulties in comprehension.

The incorporation of AI and other emerging technologies such as quantum computing, blockchain, and IoT promises a significant transformation in the cybersecurity frameworks in Asia. This integration has the potential to offer increased levels of resilience and flexibility in safeguarding digital assets.

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