Cyber security critical concern of Singapore companies but not ranked high in board focus: Survey

The National Cyber Incident Response Teams taking part in a cyber-attack simulation in July 2017.

SINGAPORE - While cyber security is a major concern at nine out of 10 boards in Singapore, it is not part of strategic discussions at board level.

According to the findings of the 2017 Singapore Board of Directors (BOD) Survey of listed companies - which surveyed 203 respondents between May and July 2017 - 93 per cent of respondents agreed that cyber security is of critical concern, but it did not rank high at all in terms of board focus.

Ng Wai King, chair of the 2017 Board Survey Committee, believes that companies can do more in this area."Companies should realise that building a stronger cyber security infrastructure could also serve as an enabler to defend their businesses from undesirable threats and maintain their brand positioning," he said.

The 10th edition, which is jointly launched by Singapore Institute of Directors (SID), Singapore Exchange (SGX), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), also revealed an uptick in the percentage of respondents taking steps to encourage more female representation on the board - 39 per cent for 2017 Board Survey compared with 14 per cent for 2015 Board Survey.

Respondents have also identified expertise, age, ethnicity and nationality as other forms of diversity that would be taken into consideration in the appointment of new directors to their boards. In addition, continued best efforts to increase awareness were again found to be the most preferred method to enhance board diversity.

Willie Cheng, SID chairman, added that companies must try and identify potential new directors via means other than through personal contacts. To this end, SID has enhanced its board appointment services to help companies search in a more comprehensive way for director candidates from among its members.

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