Malaysian Minister of Defence Hishammuddin Hussein talks with journalists at Defence Services Asia. Hussein identified cyber terrorism as a vital security issue. (MOHD RASFAN/Agence France-Presse)
KUALA LUMPUR — BAE Systems Applied Intelligence business is moving the center of its cyber software development activities to Malaysia as part of a strategy that will see the Southeast Asian location emerge as a key component of it growing security business, according to Richard Watson, the division’s Asia Pacific region managing director.
The Malaysian operation has already grown from 10 people to 100 within two years and the plan is to recruit enough engineers to boost that figure to 350 people during 2015, said the Applied Intelligence executive.
The expansion of the British company’s cyber business here comes at a time of increasing concern locally about the impact defense and commercial hacking can have on national security.
In a speech at a conference on the sidelines of the Defence Services Asia exhibition here this week, Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein identified cyber terrorism as one of the most vital non-traditional security issue to emerge in recent times.
“It tends to target the symbols of national security and data of security value, thus posing a more strategic danger than many existing strategic threats,” he said.
Late last month, Applied Intelligence (formerly known as Detica) inked a memorandum with the state-owned company CyberSecurity Malaysia for potential future collaboration.
The BAE executive said part of the rationale for setting up the facility in Kuala Lumpur is to address national security requirements locally as well as marketing commercial products for finance, energy and other industries across the Southeast Asian region.
The creation of what Watson called a “global delivery center in Kuala Lumpur” is part of a scheme that has seen Applied Intelligence set up similar hubs in Poznan, Poland, and Leeds in the UK to focus on other key sectors of the company’s cyber development activities.
Applied Intelligence is looking for a South American location to set up another hub
Polish engineers are leading the fight against financial crime while the Leeds-based hub is concentrating on British-eyes-only developments for government and other customers.
Watson said Applied Intelligence had looked at other potential sites in Asia, including India and the Philippines, but selected Malaysia due to its pool of high caliber, highly motivated graduates.
The fact Britain has a security alliance with the Malaysian government also helped sway the decision as did the low-cost base, about 30 percent below Singapore or Britain, said Watson.
“These are computer science, math and other graduates with very analytical minds. They are also some of the most highly motivated staff I have seen globally,” said the executive.
The expansion of the business in Malaysia makes BAE the biggest cyber security player locally and probably the only international player in the sector to move key parts of their business to the Southeast Asian region, said Watson.