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Why Cybersecurity Startups are Picking Up Growth in SEA While e-commerce is probably the fastest growing industry, one industry with room for growth is cybersecurity

By TJ Jung

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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The startup scene in Southeast Asia (SEA) has given rise to some incredible tech-based companies that are superseding global players in the region.

Korea's largest e-commerce company, Coupang, for example, has raked in more than $3 billion in annual sales and is beating out the multinational e-commerce giant Amazon who is struggling to crack the markets in Asia.

Then there's Grab, the ride-hailing company based out of Singapore, which beat out Uber for regional dominance in early 2018.

Similarly, one of the most talked about startups, GoJek, began as a motorcycle ride-hailing mobile app before transforming into a full on-demand service that now also offers ticket bookings and even cleaning and courier services.

Operating in 50 cities in Indonesia, GoJek is on its way to expand to other countries in SE Asia.

Outsiders have often looked to Singapore, Hong Kong, or China as centers for technological innovation in Asia, but with more and more startups arising from all parts of the SE Asian region, there's a race for these tech hubs to become the next Silicon Valley.

Singapore makes up part of the bigger pie piece in the SE Asian startup scene.

Indonesia for instance boasts of four so called "unicorns" (startups valued at $1 billion or more) and is the second-largest recipient of venture capital in SE Asia.

What's Driving all this Growth

The countries that make up the Association of SE Asian Nations (ASEAN) are projected to create the world's fourth largest economy, following the US, China, and the EU.

It's no secret that the rapid economic growth which SE Asia is experiencing is fueled primarily by the tech industry – and it doesn't look like it will slow down anytime soon.

Furthermore, a rising middle class and more people with access to the internet means a booming internet economy that has given birth to startups like GoJek.

Given this shift toward digital business, it's very likely that local tech startups will continue to step up and take the lead in bolstering regional economies.

For SE Asia, the key success factor can be tied to localisation and explains why many local startups are able to surpass their global counterparts and competitors.

While e-commerce is probably the fastest growing industry, one industry with room for growth is cybersecurity.

Why the CybersecuritySector

Because of SE Asia's rapidly growing digital footprint, organisations region-wide are becoming more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

While there have been tremendous efforts to boost cybersecurity in the region with new cyber regulations and awareness campaigns, many organisations are still left defenseless.

In a report by the UK-based tech research company,Comparitech, Indonesia and Vietnam ranked second and thirdworst for cybersecurity out of the 60 countries analysed.

Singapore is the only SE Asian country to rank in the top ten.

Despite the enormous cost cybersecurity threats pose organisations in the region, only 42 per cent of the executive leadership considerscybersecurity a high priority.

This challenge is coupled with a huge cybersecurity workforce gap and a lack of readily available resources for many SE Asian countries.

Despite the huge potential for innovation and new startups to arise in the region, there are these challenges to bear in mind.

Closing One of the CybersecurityBarriers

Although there are 2,600 cybersecurity vendors in the market, many are simply not cooperating with each other and sharing cyber threat intelligence.

This causes cyber threat information to be highly privatised and limits the way it can be used to improve the cybersecurity community.

In the same way, it limits the potential and innovation that new cybersecurity players may have to offer in the SE Asian region.

Because there are global cybersecurity vendors operating in the SE Asia region that already offer cybersecurity solutions, it may seem discouraging for new vendors to enter the playing field.

However, these global vendors offer solutions that are primarily designed and priced for large enterprises, which open the doors for new cyber vendors to develop solutions that fit the needs of the local market by setting their own pricing plans or providing support in local languages.

Interestingly enough, a Korean startup is looking to spark innovation within the cybersecurity community by making cybersecurity threat information "open" with the help of blockchain technology.

They aim to create a massive cyber threat database comprised of malicious IPs, phishing sites, hacker wallet addresses, and more for users to reference.

The threat information will be viewable to all, and those companies or developers who want to use the data to create their own security solutions may do so by requesting an API.


The startup scene in SE Asia is vibrant and helping to foster economic growth in the region.

The tech industry in particular is giving way to new innovators and introducing new business ideas that are impacting the local people directly and changing their lives for the better.

If given the right tools could SE Asia see the birth of new cybersecurity startups too?

At least one Korean startup thinks so.

In a region where cybersecurity is still nurturing innovation and solutions curated by local companies, it offers an attractive alternative to the solutions offered by global cyber vendors.
TJ Jung

CEO and Co-Founder of Cloudbric

Holding 10 years of information security experience, primarily in encryption and web application security, TJ is heavily involved in the cybersecurity community and has several IT security-related patents to his name. He is now focusing on creating his own blockchain business venture. 

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