PwC estimates there are about 100 million cyberattacks every year, including data theft, leakage of intellectual property, corporate sabotage and denial-of-service attacks. That’s 200 new cyberthreats every minute. The US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates the annual impact of cyber-attacks on the global economy at a staggering US$600 billion ($826 billion).

Little wonder, then, that in the wake of cyberattacks, the protection of information systems from theft or damage to the hardware, the software and the data available is a burgeoning business.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates that the global cybersecurity solutions market is likely to grow to US$170 billion by 2020 from US $75 billion last year. Because of high-profile attacks over the past three years, cybersecurity is among the biggest recipients of venture-capital investments in the tech sector today, and new companies are often the biggest beneficiaries.  

Indeed, as more cybersecurity start-ups acquire “unicorn” status (or billion-dollar valuation), more money is being poured from the sector. New tools are emerging from a growing ecosystem of cybersecurity start-ups. Last year, US $6 billion was spent on R&D for cybersecurity, and venture capitalists poured another US $3.5 billion into cybersecurity start-ups in 2015.

Among the handful of cybersecurity start-ups that have drawn the lion’s share of attention is Tanium, a unicorn run by father-and-son pair David and Orion Hindawi. The California firm has developed a technology that allows network operators to find out what is happening to a specific device on the network and immediately quarantine the infected device. Essentially, Tanium helps create a computer central nervous system that can scan and report suspicious behavior or programs for every customer.

The key areas of growth in the cybersecurity sector over the next few years are likely to include encryption, mobile security, biometrics, e-commerce and payments, endpoint security for new Internet of Things devices, next-generation firewalls, network security, critical infrastructure as well as homeland security and threat intelligence, says a recent report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

As cyberattacks continue to hog the headlines, the need to protect networks, computers, programs as well as data from attack, damage or unauthorised access will continue to grow.

* You are reading an abridged article from this week’s issue of The Edge Singapore, p20. Pick up your copy at newsstands this week for the full story!