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Cyber attack top business continuity threat for second consecutive year: global survey


February 9, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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Cyber attack and data breach are the top threats perceived by surveyed businesses – at number one and two, respectively, in 2015 – notes a new report released Monday.

Cyber attack identified as top business continuity threat yet again

The fifth annual BCI Horizon Scan report – published by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) in association with the British Standards Institution (BSI) – reflects responses to an online survey involving business continuity managers at 568 organizations in 74 countries to assess business preparedness.

The possibility of a cyber attack was cited as a business threat by 85% of respondents, representing the top threat for the second year running (the research shows that it was the top concern in six out of the eight regions surveyed), notes a statement from BCI and BSI. The possibility of a data breach similar to that experienced by Carphone Warehouse and Sony, cited by 80% of those polled, climbed a single place to settle in the number two spot, the statement adds.

BCI and BSI report that the remainder from the global Top 10 threats to business continuity are as follows:

  • unplanned IT and telecom outages – down one spot;
  • act of terrorism – up five places;
  • security Incident – up one notch;
  • interruption to utility supply – down two spots;
  • supply chain disruption – down two places;
  • adverse weather – down one level;
  • availability of key skills – new entry in 2015; and
  • health and safety incident – new entry in 2015. [Click image below to enlarge]

BCI Horizon Scan 2016

Asked about specific risks, BCI and BSI report that 47% of respondents identified increasing supply chain complexity as a trend, leaving their organization vulnerable to disruption from conflict or natural disasters. Concerns were also voiced with regard to the availability of talent and key skills, with 13% of those surveyed indicating they are “extremely concerned” and 34% reporting they are “concerned” about the threat.

Other report findings include the following:

  • use of the Internet for malicious attacks – 83% cite this as a concern;
  • use of long-term trend analysis to assess and understand threats – down 3% to 70%;
  • use of trend analysis – of those carrying out trend analysis, 33% report their businesses are not using the results to inform their business continuity management programs;
  • use of trend analysis – 94% of polled organizations in Canada report using trend analysis compared to 29% in the Caribbean and Latin America;

The report provides the strong recommendation that the rising costs of business continuity demand greater attention from top management.

There is a need to identify and build resilience to this range of threats, suggests  BCI chairman David James-Brown. “It is, indeed, crucial for practitioners to advise organizations on what to prepare for and adjust their recovery plans accordingly,” James-Brown continues.

“The industry landscape is rapidly changing, and so should our discipline in order to keep up with both traditional and modern challenges,” he says. “ Given the rise of new challenges and the fact that old ones remain, horizon scanning techniques are even more valuable in assisting organizations to be prepared to the best of their potential.”

It is concerning that “businesses are still not fully utilizing the information available to them to identify and remedy weaknesses in their organizational resilience,” BSI chief executive Howard Kerr says.

“It is difficult to conceive that either investors or employees will be reassured that the leaders of the organizations they trust are making strategic decisions without an effective evaluation of risk,” Kerr points out.

“Ultimately, organizations must recognize that, while there is risk, and plenty of it, there is also opportunity. Taking advantage of this means that leaders can steer their businesses to succeed by not just surviving, but thriving,” he adds.