Singtel aiming to be global player in cyber security

Bill Chang, executive vice-president of Singtel's business group.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Singtel aims to be a global cyber-security player in an industry that will be worth an estimated US$27 billion (S$38 billion) by 2019.

The strategy has been bolstered by the telco's acquisition of cyber- security firm Trustwave in April and partnerships with firms in the industry such as FireEye.

The telco now has access to 13 security operations centres (SOCs) in 11 cities in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

These centres are critical in the fight against hackers and cyber criminals as they let Singtel gather threat intelligence globally. If there is a threat, the telco's cyber experts can work to stop it and at the same time provide advance alerts to customers.

Singtel group chief executive of enterprise Bill Chang told The Straits Times last week: "These global cyber-threat intelligence feeds are in real time and around the clock. We see how the threat starts, advances and evolves. We can serve our customers better."

The acquisition of Trustwave has given Singtel access to its worldwide customer base and more than 1,000 cyber-security experts as well as research and development activities.

Trustwave's 10,000 customers have three million subscribers on its managed security services. These customers are linked to the SOCs. If threats are detected, Singtel can work with Trustwave to contain them while alerting its own customers of the potential threats.

The telco can also access FireEye's six SOCs following a strategic partnership it signed with the American corporation last year.

These assets make Singtel's global ambition a reachable goal, despite cyber security not being a traditional telco business.

Mr Chang noted that there are no clear leaders in the market, especially in the area of managed security services.

Singtel will provide corporations with three types of services in this area. One is threat management, which involves monitoring and managing security devices and systems.

Another area is in vulnerability detection. This includes intrusion detection and penetration testing.

The last area is in compliance, where Singtel will ensure its customers actively follow cyber-security guidelines.

"Customers can outsource these services to us and we'll run them. Or, we can provide the tools and technology and they run them themselves," said Mr Chang.

Singtel will also enhance its capabilities by training more experts together with institutions of higher learning.

It is building a cyber range later this year. It is a centre that will have the tools and technologies for cyber security. Its customers can train their staff there in cyber detection, defence and protection capabilities.

Cyber security is becoming a high-growth industry because of the rising number of data breaches. There are about 200,000 new cyber threats found each day, said Mr Chang. "The scale is unprecedented. Data breaches are on the rise and the scale of attacks is getting bigger. Corporations are concerned because of the potential financial and reputational loss."

No industry has been spared. The United States government, airlines, banks and big retail chains have become victims of data breaches, Mr Chang added.

Research firm Gartner said the global managed security services market is expected to be worth US$15 billion this year, growing to US$27 billion in 2019. Mr Chang said the industry is expanding at a 15 per cent compound annual growth rate, but the telco expects to grow faster than this.

This article was first published on Sept 8, 2015.
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