“In the nineteenth century, the world was Europeanized. In the twentieth century, it was Americanized. Now, it is being Asianized,” wrote the World Economic Forum. The growth of the continent’s trade, knowledge, and money is creating the “Asian Century”.

But as the region becomes the center of growth, how can it keep itself secure? Nations in Asia are continuously facing cyber attacks to both their citizens and their public sector agencies.

AI could be the key to this security. The technology is already helping Asian nations to protect their cyberspace, but using it to secure identity could be the next step for greater protections.

The cyber threats facing Asia

Asian governments are under attack from hackers. A recent incident saw hackers steal data from the Unique Identification Authority of India, the government agency that oversees the national identification database, wrote The Associated Press.

Gaining access to this database could allow hackers to identify high-value targets, including government officials. This could lead to social engineering attacks, where personal information is used to personalise cyberthreats, better manipulating individuals into exposing vulnerabilities.

The breach of U.S healthcare provider Magellan Health is one example of a social engineering attack. Hackers were able to gain access to sensitive data after sending malicious emails posing as clients of the organisation, explained the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) Singapore.

Citizens, as well as agencies, are being targeted by hackers. A survey by CSA Singapore found that nearly four in 10 citizens stated they were victims of at least one cyber-security incident in 2020.

Having their online accounts used by hackers to communicate with others was one of the most common cyber incidents reported in the survey. Being locked out of accounts was another popular attack, reported The Straits Times.

In Malaysia, the potential economic loss in Malaysia due to cyber security incidents could reach RM51 billion, more than 4 per cent of the country’s GDP, one study found. In 2019, the Malaysian police recorded 11,875 cases of cybercrime, wrote the Malaysia Cyber Security Strategy 2020-2024 report.

How Asia is using AI so far

While Asia faces these cyberattacks, it does have a secret weapon up its sleeve. AI is being used to fortify the region’s defences. This was the case recently, when AI helped prevent a cyberattack on the Olympic games in Japan.

A malicious IoT device was set up at a national sporting organisation to steal data, one week before the games started. AI was able to detect this threat and block it from accessing sensitive information long enough for the hacker’s device to be located, wrote DarkTrace.

A new form of cybersecurity is being developed in Singapore, as CSA is supporting the development of AI-enabled security hardware. This tool scans malicious activity and continuously learns about new cyber threats, reducing the need for security updates, explained the Straits Times.

As well as offering protection, the adoption of AI security can also help the work of cybersecurity teams. AI can help gather data on specific cyber threats from research on the internet and turn it into reports for the security team.

This helps to address an information overload, where staff struggle to complete this task while dealing with increasing cyber attacks and a talent shortage, wrote Forbes.

The next steps for AI security

Asia has been using AI for security, but it’s possible to take these protections one step further. Organisations can integrate AI into the securing of identity, wrote CyberArk.

Identity systems can use AI to understand user behaviour while being continuously updated when new data is created. This allows organisations to set a risk score every time data is accessed, helping IT teams to understand threat levels and plan precautions.

An organisation that fully adopts AI can expect it to determine if users have access that exceeds their usual responsibilities or roles. This will help raise an alert to unusual access patterns and can be done automatically when data is being accessed.

CyberArk’s AI-enabled identity systems can also proactively block user access, ask for additional authentication, and alert security teams, when detecting a potential attack.

This autonomous system can work unsupervised, helping organisations to move away from a rigid, reactive approach to one that automatically protects systems in real time.

As all eyes focus on Asia and its continuing growth, there is even more reason to ensure that nations are prepared for cyber attacks. Organisations can do this by continuing to upgrade their AI cybersecurity systems for better control over identity.