Technology is fundamental to business, so it is not a surprise that cyber-attacks, data breaches and unplanned IT outages remain the top threats to business according to research released by the BSI and the Business Continuity Institute.
The 2018 Horizon Scan report is now in its seventh year, and covers the top concerns, emerging threats and actual incidents based on the experiences of businesses worldwide. Cyber-attacks such as WannaCry and NotPetya are now much more likely to disrupt operations than in the past. One concern raised in the report is that highly disruptive, yet not so rare threats, such as pandemics, are slipping off business radars.
Here are the top ten threats the report highlights that you should be concerned about, and crucially the steps you can take to prepare.
1. Cyber-attack - cyber threats take the top spot for the third year running and the increasing adoption of Internet of Things means they are likely to intensify. Preparation is key. Costs can be mitigated during and after the incident as long as the appropriate safeguards are implemented and an organization and its people are well informed. Sadly, human errors such as failing to patch computers are still a leading cause of disruption.
2. Data breach - the loss or theft of confidential information is a significant worry, especially ahead of the introduction of tight new GDPR later this year. As with cyber-attacks, preparation is key to ensuring your organization is ready for a timely response.
3. Unplanned IT or telecom outages - completing the trio of cyber threats, the loss of access to critical infrastructure is of extreme concern to more than a third of global businesses. A relatable risk that has remained prominent over the years is system and data recovery. Conducting business impact assessments, setting realistic recovery time objectives and making daily back-ups of your data are all critical to minimizing downtime and helping you stay abreast of the challenges your business may face.
4. Interruption to utility supply and 5. Adverse weather - physical security remains a strong concern for organizations. Loss of water or power, especially if prolonged, is a serious worry for today’s ‘just in time’ economy. Connected to loss of utilities, severe weather events, such as hurricanes Irma and Harvey, saw people cut off from basic services. For those on the ground, thorough business continuity planning is essential.
6. Act of terrorism and 7. Security incident - a growing number of organizations are adopting measures to build effective emergency communications responses to these type of incidents as normal practice.
8. Fire - from wildfires to significant residential blazes, fire is a traditional threat at risk of being overlooked in this digital age. Combining aspects of culture and business continuity, this is another area that requires careful planning.
9. Supply chain disruption and 10. Transport network disruption - the rising threat of physical disruptions means that organizations’ exposure to other companies’ issues needs to be taken seriously. You are only as safe as your weakest link. A growing adoption of both plans and industry standards is making it easier than ever before to have confidence in your supply-chain.
Across the board, business continuity management is becoming more prevalent in organizations - 70% of the report’s respondents actively use the internationally recognized business continuity management system standard, as they become increasingly aware of the benefits it delivers. Emerging threats are driving firms to adopt a holistic risk-based approach to get a comprehensive understanding of strengths and vulnerabilities.
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 not just survive, but thrive and ultimately be more resilient.
Pietro Foschi is strategic delivery director at BSI.
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