Cybersecurity for Smart Factories in Manufacturing: Key Takeaways

AIBP Insights is a series of discussions held online which brings together a focus group of ASEAN stakeholders to discuss topics related to enterprise technology adoption in the region.

Yesterday, we kicked off our AIBP Insights Manufacturing series with a discussion on Realising the Potential of Digital Technologies in the Supply Chain. You may view the playback of the discussion here.

By 2030, ASEAN is expected to be the world’s fourth largest economic bloc. The region’s changing demographics, geopolitical shifts, and favourable government policies lay a solid foundation for its member countries to capitalise on growth in the manufacturing industry. 

With the adoption of digital technologies in factories bringing a new level of cyber complexity, ASEAN manufacturers continue to face rising cybersecurity challenges. In AIBP’s 2021 ASEAN Enterprise Innovation Survey, 27.8 percent of ASEAN manufacturers said cybersecurity and privacy concerns are a barrier to their growth, and in the coming year, 31.6 percent of them will prioritise cyber resilience. (You may view more survey results in our 2021/22 ASEAN Enterprise Innovation Market Overview here

The semiconductor and electronics industry is a major economic driver in the Philippines, accounting for the majority of the country’s manufacturing output. According to the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI), total electronics exports reached an all-time high of $45.92 billion in 2021, surpassing pre-pandemic levels of $43.3 billion by 6%. SEIPI forecasts a 10% growth in the Philippines’ electronics industry in 2022, owing to the transition to COVID endemicity, the relaxation of quarantine restrictions, and strong global demand for electronics.

In the opening discussion for our 2022 AIBP Insights Manufacturing series, our panel comprised speakers from SEIPI, alongside semiconductor manufacturers Amkor Technology Philippines, Inc. and Integrated Microelectronics Inc. (IMI), and technology partner Dell Technologies, who came together to discuss and share their perspectives on managing expanded risks, the role of employees in cybersecurity measures/initiatives, and balancing cybersecurity measures/initiatives with employee and customer experience.

Managing Expanded Risks with the Increased Adoption of Digital Technologies 

Dr. Dan C. Lachica, President of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI), shared that most of us as consumers, including manufacturing leaders, are exposed to heightened vulnerabilities without even realising it. For example, he cited a December 2021 incident in which more than 700 BDO customers reported that funds were stolen from their bank accounts despite not clicking on any suspicious links, and he also observed that the tech-savvy millennial generation tends to click on (phishing) links while shopping online.

It was noted during the discussion that technologies are a double-edged sword which create barriers as well as opportunities for manufacturers in the region.

As manufacturers look to increase productivity through the adoption of more digital technologies, Rosalyn Tesoro, Global Chief Information Officer and Data Protection Officer at Integrated Microelectronics Inc. (IMI), stated that manufacturers are becoming more vulnerable to threats. It is critical to implement security checks to ensure that these digital technologies adhere to existing frameworks and governing standards.

Similarly, Dr. Jonathan Mondero, Senior Director, Head of Information Technology/Executive Staff, Amkor Technology Philippines, Inc., prioritises improving the governance, visibility, and monitoring of Amkor’s three factory plants in the Philippines, and it is critical that they have a team on the ground 24/7 ready to alert and notify the team when something goes wrong.

Trevor LaBrie, Regional Account Executive, Dell Endpoint Security, South Asia/Korea, Dell Technologies, outlined some of the most common attacks and challenges he encountered. In his experience, organisations frequently struggle, especially when they are required to maintain the highest standards while working with limited resources and budgets. 

The Role of Employees in Cybersecurity (and in other digital transformation journeys too…)

Rosalyn observed that there has been an increase in budget allocation for cybersecurity measures/initiatives in comparison to previous years. When embarking on the digital transformation journey, aligning and training the workforce is just as important as getting the necessary buy-in from the board.

Dr. Jonathan agrees and adds that cybersecurity awareness programs are in place to educate their employees. He stated that when it comes to cybersecurity measures, change management will be critical, and it will be imperative to constantly communicate the value proposition and best practices to their employees.

Trevor echoed that having the right talent – hiring, onboarding, and retaining – is critical in the relatively small pool of cybersecurity experts.

Balancing Cybersecurity Measures with Employee and Customer Experience

When addressing a question from the audience on balancing implementing cybersecurity measures and maintaining the best customer and employee experience, Rosalyn responded that cybersecurity measures are a must when you want to give the best customer and employee experience, especially with today’s tech-savvy generation.

Similarly, Dr. Dan agreed and added that it is important for organisations to be proactive and implement the necessary cybersecurity measures to deter potential risks, and this will ensure that it is a smoother experience for customers and employees. 

Rosalyn summarised the discussion by stating that cybersecurity measures, like any other digital transformation initiative, will always be an iterative process. It is critical to be adaptable, especially given the market/constant industry’s changes.

With that, we look forward to continuing our discussion on ASEAN Agribusiness Revolution in the Digital Age (7 April) and Data Driven Transformation – Moving up the Manufacturing Value Chain (8 April). Registrations are available here. We will also be hosting a discussion on sustainable supply chains with Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinarmas and Integrated Micro-Electronics (IMI), on 5 April 2022. For more information and to access complimentary registrations, do visit this page

Do reach out if there are topics in digitalisation you would like to hear more of! 


29 March 2022