Global BSI and business continuity study reveals firms’ fears about cyber-attacks

6 March 2013

Almost two thirds of organisations are either extremely concerned or concerned about the prospect of a cyber-attack this year, according to an international 2013 survey published by the UK’s Business Continuity Institute (BCI) in association with the British Standards Institution (BSI).

The ‘Horizon Scan 2013 Survey Report’ is based on a survey of respondents from 730 organisations in 62 countries including the US, the UK, India, China, South Africa, Egypt and Brazil. Responses from organisations in sectors ranging from financial services, public administration and defence, retail and manufacturing, reveal that 65% fear they may be exposed to an attack this year.

Seventy-one per cent of respondents see the use of the internet for malicious attacks as a major trend that requires a business continuity (BC) response, with 42% seeking to manage the prevalence and high adoption of internet-dependent services, such as the cloud, within their preparedness activities.

Other findings from the report, now in its second consecutive year, include:

• The leading threat of concern in 2013 is unplanned IT and telecommunication outages, with 70% of organisations surveyed stating they were extremely concerned or concerned about this threat in 2013. This was followed in second place by concern over a data breach at 66%.
• Supply chain disruption and the underlying trend of increasing supply chain complexity figure prominently in the overall results and are lead concerns in the manufacturing and retail sectors.
• Sixty per cent of respondents see the influence of social media as a major trend affecting reputation management and crisis communications, the second-highest rated trend in the survey.
• Investment in BC measures is robust, despite difficult economic times, with 22% seeing increased investment in 2013 and 54% stating that investment will be maintained at appropriate levels, although 14% expected investment to be cut.

The survey concludes that the level of concern across sectors and regions about a cyber-attack is a major challenge for public policy makers and boardrooms. More needs to be done to gain a better understanding of the threat and underlying trends that drive the vulnerability to ensure that a proportionate business continuity approach is in place.

“For the first time, we see a study that brings together short-term threats with the underlying trends that drive disruption. This provides business managers with both an immediate term focus and insight into the longer term needs for capability development,” said Lyndon Bird, the BCI’s technical director.

“The dominance of technology and Internet-related threats and trends in this year's survey mirrors events we have seen in the real world recently with, for example, PayPal, RIM, O2 and RBS. The high level of concern over a cyber-attack may well be misplaced but it demands a considered independent analysis of the threat to avoid hype and disillusionment and ensure a proportionate response is in place.”

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