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Having apt measures when using apps vital to protecting data

Organisations and brands must face challenge of making apps more secure

Just over 10 years ago, Apple introduced the iPhone.

And over the decade, much has changed in the way we interact with applications (better known as apps).

Today, apps are at the heart of every engagement and innovation. In our highly competitive and dynamic Asia, mobile and smart devices are shaping the next frontier of business opportunities and growth.

As apps become the new normal, expectations will evolve beyond basic engagements and transactions.

This shift will be driven by Asian millennials, who will make up half the population of the Asia-Pacific by 2020. They will expect nothing less than real-time, intuitive and secure app-eriences.

As these Asian millennials make waves in shaping the economy, organisations and brands must look to evolve their offerings, approach and strategies to elevate the end-user app-erience.

Research has shown that 29 per cent of smartphone users will immediately switch to another site or app if it does not satisfy their needs (that is, if they cannot find information or it is too slow).

This app-volution has therefore created a new set of challenges as businesses rely on an ever-increasing number of apps across complex infrastructures to meet rising customer expectations, which also provides malicious actors a source of new vectors to mount attacks.

In 2018, the smartest companies will operate in an app-centric way and build services with the balance of speed and security at the heart of their customer's experience. Businesses will need to think about why they want to move apps, who needs access, what they want to do with them, and how they are going to deliver (and secure) them.

Today, the cyber security challenge is daunting. Organisations face a decrease in visibility, context and control, and an increase in surface area for cyber criminals to mount attacks.

In the 2017 Singapore Board of Directors Survey, 93 per cent of respondents cited cyber security as a major concern.

The main culprit?

Lack of transparency in the region, leading to weak cyber regulations and enforcement by the authorities, as well as low cyber awareness and security investments among businesses.

It is time to rethink traditional security architectures to begin addressing the areas of greatest vulnerability. Apps and users. Defending the perimeter of the network is no longer sufficient, and businesses have to shift towards a proactive approach of prediction, detection, and response.

The biggest cyber security threats in fact lie within the company. According to a worldwide survey by Information Security Forum members, the vast majority of network openings that allow cyber attackers in are actually accidentally created by employees - those with no intention of harming their employer.

As companies in Asia continue to innovate and evolve to stay relevant and engaged in this competitive landscape, security skill sets remain scarce.

As we begin 2018, it is not just about having the right technology to elevate and secure the end-user app-erience, but also about building the right culture in organisations - to go faster, safer and smarter.

The writer is senior marketing director for the Asia-Pacific at F5 Networks. This article appeared in The Business Times yesterday.

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