A rash of hacking of websites in the Asia-Pacific has exposed weak cyberdefences and they must be improved to help the region deal with more sophisticated and sinister threats, particularly from criminal organisations, analysts said.
Hackers claiming to be from the global activist group Anonymous compromised several government and commercial websites in Australia, the Philippines and Singapore recently and vowed to mount wider attacks.
In the latest incident, Anonymous hackers on Thursday hijacked a section of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's official website, just a day after he vowed to "spare no effort" to hunt down anyone who attacks the regional financial centre's technological network.
Analysts warned that Anonymous, which carries out attacks to highlight issues such as internet freedom and corruption, is just one of the groups involved, and some others with a more sinister agenda could inflict really serious damage.
"The more sophisticated group that government and business should fear are the cyber-criminal organisations who have much greater resources at their disposal," said Tan Shong Ye, information technology risk and cyber security leader at global business consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Their targets could be valuable intellectual property and critical infrastructure, including military and state secrets, Tan said.
Shadowy hackers who have long targeted the West are turning their sights on Asia's fast-growing economies.
"As countries become wealthier, they have more assets and therefore are more likely to become targets," said Nina Laven, director for economics and country risk at the consultancy group IHS.
Governments and businesses were taking new steps to protect their networks, but hackers, in many instances, are a step ahead, analysts said.
"While information security risks have dramatically evolved, security strategies ... have not kept pace," PwC said in its Global State of Information Security Survey released in September.
China, the world's second- biggest economy, and Russia were "showing solid progress" in deploying cybersecurity safeguards while India was playing catch-up, Tan said.
"China's internet infrastructure is in fact more heavily guarded than others, thanks to the state's role in the big firewall of China," he said.