Not if, but when. Strengthening the safety net to improve cyber resilience

Cyber threats are all around us. This is not paranoia, it’s an unfortunate reality: every day brings new hacks, new data leaks, new embarrassment – and new costs, both financial and commercial. Nobody is spared. The attacks target companies large and small, as well as public-sector institutions and individuals. How can organisations protect themselves?

A survey we conducted of more than 1,000 C-suite executives worldwide last December for our annual C-suite barometer emphasised that cyber security is now a major preoccupation among corporate leaders. Effective cyber defence has become a delicate balancing act for many businesses, and the important thing is to build a strong safety net that can cushion any eventual fall.

Our research reveals:

  • Business leaders everywhere are bracing for cyberattacks but remain confident they can withstand them. More than half of business leaders surveyed in our annual C-suite barometer see an increase in cyber threats over the past year, and 35% expect a significant data breach in their own company in the coming year. Nonetheless, most companies seem confident of their ability to cope with attacks: globally, 68% of business leaders see their company’s data as being “completely protected”.
  • Financial losses are the biggest perceived risk. More than half of the business leaders we surveyed put financial losses at the top of the list of the biggest data protection risks. The levels of concern and confidence range from industry to industry, with finance, technology and consumer businesses the most confident.
  • Effective cyber defence rests on five pillars: identification, prevention, detection, response and recovery. Each has an important technological component, but equally each has a critical human component. Business continuity plans need to have been painstakingly elaborated and extensively tested so they can be adopted seamlessly by the entire organisation.
  • Shifting mindsets to prepare for the worst is the best defence. Cyber security is a fast-evolving field, with attackers now heavily armed (including with AI) and often two steps ahead of the organisations in their sights. Accepting that data breaches will happen and having robust plans for handling them provides the best assurance that the response will be swift, recovery effective and the costs limited.

Cyber threats are here to stay – and they will get worse. That is the sober reality of C-suite sentiment. The best protected organisations will be those that strengthen their cyber safety net. Now is the time for action.

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