Are Southeast Asia’s cyber defenses vulnerable to Chinese attacks?

A telecom firm in the Philippines recently hired the services of a United States-based cybersecurity firm to shore up its defenses against the potential threats of spying by China.

It became the latest in a string of Southeast Asian corporations to have engaged a cybersecurity firm to strengthen its online defense systems.  

There are reports that Beijing-led cyber espionage operations are targeting government officials and other state infrastructures across Southeast Asia. Those reports claim China is employing various methods to increase its intelligence operations in the region, including engaging human spies, using bots, hacking and buying information.

The growth of China’s spying infrastructure in Southeast Asia presents a credible threat to the region’s security. It is therefore high time that ASEAN comes up with a plan to plug this loophole. Otherwise, it risks Beijing being able to listen in on government conversations.

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Umair Jamal