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IT fears top list of threats to firms, says resilience specialist


The annual Horizon Scan by the Business Continuity Institute, published in association with Milton Keynes-based business standards specialist BSI, reveals that 77% of business leaders fear an unplanned IT and telecommunications outage, while 73% worry about the impact of cyber-attack or data breach.
A similar number view the use of the internet for malicious attacks as a major threat. Two-thirds hold the same view about the influence of social media.
This year’s top ten threats to business continuity are:
1    Unplanned IT and telecom outages
2    Cyber attack
3    Data breach
4    Adverse weather
   Interruption to utility supply
6    Fire
7    Security incident
8    Health & Safety incident
9    Act of terrorism
10  New laws or regulations
BSI opened its Europe Middle East and Africa headquarters at Knowlhill in 2011. The £5.3 million Kitemark Court houses staff relocated from BSI’s previous offices in Linford Wood and at Hemel Hempstead, as well as BSI’s global testing and healthcare businesses.
BSI chief executive Howard Kerr (pictured) said: “At a time when changing climatic, social, political and economic situations are forcing organisations to be nimble in adapting to novel threats, it is essential to learn from others experience and best practice.
“Developing the resilience of networks, services and business critical information must be an integral part of an organisation’s wider business resilience strategy.
"By putting in place a framework based on risk standards, you will be able to identify, prioritise and manage the range of threats to your business more effectively and keep your stakeholders reassured.”
The Horizon Scan report also found:
  • Adverse weather moved up the list of threats, with 57% of respondents expressing concern or extreme concern. This was before the storms that have swept the UK and those on the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada.
  • Geography and industry play an important role in determining threat levels with respondents from Japan and New Zealand showing greater levels of concern for earthquakes, while those in the manufacturing industry rate supply chain disruption and product quality control as greater threats.
  • Of the 71% of respondents who stated that they conducted a trend analysis, one in five they had no access to the final output.
  • Less than half of the respondents (44%) use the international standard ISO22301 as the framework for their business continuity management programme.
Also in the report, supply chain disruption – last year within the top ten concerns – moved down the list to 16th place. This is despite increasing supply chain complexity featuring within the top five emerging trends.
Despite growing levels of concern, only 18% of organisations are increasing their level of investment in business continuity programmes while 11% are actively reducing theirs.
The report further revealed that 22% of organisations conducted no trend analysis as part of their business continuity process.
It concludes that not all threats are generic but that organisations need to invest wisely in the development of technologies to counter relevant threats and their potential impact.
The onus is on the industry to emphasise the immediate and very real return on investment a business continuity programme has to offer, it says.
BCI technical director Lyndon Bird said: “Organisations are different so the horizon scanning process is essential in order to assess these threats and ensure that the right business continuity plan is in place to deal with the impact of them.
“This piece of research has greater significance this year for the BCI as the theme in what is our 20th year is all about looking to the future and facing the new challenges this future will bring.”