Technology & Innovation

Rethinking data security in the time of covid-19

March 19, 2021


Covid-19 and organisational data security

March 19, 2021

Jason Wincuinas

Manager, Policy and insights

Based in Hong Kong, Jason covers Asia from Australia to India. His background includes managing publications, financial reporting and technical marketing as well as a decade of product-sourcing experience with mainland China factories. Some of his most formative work, however, has been as a stay-at-home dad and freelance writer, covering topics from perfluorocarbons to popcorn. Jason received a BA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with study at the University of Sheffield in Yorkshire, UK.

Covid-19 and organisational data security

Through interviews with CxOs across Asia, The Economist Intelligence Unit examines the remote work and cybersecurity challenges that covid-19 has brought to the competitive landscape. 

David Blecken was the author of the report and Jason Wincuinas was the editor. Additional insights for this article were obtained from in-depth interviews with experts. Our thanks are due to the following individuals:

  • Jihong He, chief corporate strategy officer and data centre chief executive, CapitaLand
  • Ratan Jyoti, chief information security officer, Ujjivan Financial Services
  • Wong Sze Keed, chief executive officer, AIA Singapore
  • Simeon Preston, chief operating officer ASEAN, FWD Life
  • Sami Yalavac, chief information officer Australia and New Zealand, Bupa

Cybersecurity is not a new concern for companies, but the onset of the covid-19 pandemic has made many people more attuned to the role it plays. “There is a bigger threat,” confirms Jihong He, chief corporate strategy officer and data centre chief executive at CapitaLand, a Singapore real- estate company. New ways of working have brought new opportunity for cyber criminals. Ms He says regular company-wide data protection drills have now become standard. “We have always been aware of this issue but I would say awareness of the threat has increased and we are also raising our inner bar.”

Indeed, hackers have started working overtime, much like their remote-working corporate targets. In the US, the FBI reported a spike from about 1,000 daily cybersecurity complaints before the pandemic to between 3,000 and 4,000 per day.INTERPOL’s cybercrime analysis during covid-19 also has shown a target shift “from individuals and small businesses to major corporations, governments and critical infrastructure.”3 For Asia specifically, David Koh, the commissioner of cybersecurity and chief executive at the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, spoke at a roundtable event for the Center for East Asia Policy Studies, explaining that covid-19 has brought a convergence of three major trends: “1) an acceleration in digitalisation and increased exposure of assets and infrastructure to cyberattacks; 2) an increase in collective risk profiles due to an expanded teleworking environment; and 3) a global surge in malicious cyber activities.”4

2 The Hill, “FBI sees spike in cyber crime reports during coronavirus pandemic,” April 16th 2020, fbi-sees-spike-in-cyber-crime-reports-during-coronavirus-pandemic
3 INTERPOL, “INTERPOL report shows alarming rate of cyberattacks during COVID-19,” August 4th 2020,
4 Brookings, “Experts discuss the growth of cyber threats amid the pandemic”, December 28th 2020,

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