Businesses #leaders need to take the #reins with #cyber security

Recent high-profile incidents are yet again highlighting the damage that cyber-attacks can make to a company’s reputation, customer relationships and, of course, bottom line. It tells us one thing – businesses are still not doing enough to combat these threats.

Findings from our Advanced Trends Report 2017reinforces this worrying state of information security, with nearly one in five (18%) British businesses admitting to being unprepared for a cyber-attack. It’s not good enough – in the face of digital disruption, cyber security is critical.

This can’t be stressed enough. While digital innovation presents a huge opportunity for our economy, it also goes hand in hand with a need for greater emphasis on cyber security.

The growing infiltration of, and dependency on, the Internet, along with technology trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), is changing how we do business and therefore widening the area of opportunity for attack. Now more than ever, it is vital that organisations fully appreciate the risks of cyber crime and take the necessary steps to mitigate them.

The consequences for firms that fail to implement robust cyber security measures are stark – ranging from severe operational disruption to financial losses, redundancies or even bankruptcy.

This is echoed by recent high profile attacks, which show that organisations are not detecting attacks quickly enough, are slow to respond to them and do not understand the impact of an attack on their business once it is underway.

What’s more, the ways in which cyber criminals attack are becoming more sophisticated. While the Government has greatly increased its cyber crime budget, it is down to organisations to take control and create a culture of security which needs to be led at all levels and backed up with robust policies created and maintained to reduce and detect risks early and regularly.

A good internal culture will also make the management of data easier, will carry on through to all interactions with external relationships and hopefully encourage clients and partners to be more security conscious too.

Britain’s success in the digital era – dubbed the fourth industrial revolution – therefore goes beyond simply investing in new technologies and techniques. It requires cultural shifts, new business models and the ability to adapt and innovate. But above all, it requires strong leadership.

Responsibility at board level

The increased threat of cyber attacks and impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) place significant responsibilities on business leaders to ensure every employee understands how to protect corporate and personal data.

Unquestionably, the entire leadership team needs to be on board, driving this change. However, according to the same Advanced report, nearly one in three (31%) UK employees have no confidence in the leadership of their company to create and run a modern digital infrastructure. This is very troubling, given that a successful digital infrastructure is dependent on effective security and data protection measures.

Leaders urgently need to get a handle on the regulation and security challenges if they are to move forward in the digital era. They shouldn’t leave anything to chance and should ensure cyber security is high on their agenda, calling on third party experts if they need specialist support. Why? Because the consequences in today’s business landscape are frightening.

While we know a breach can affect a company’s reputation, customer relationships and bottom line, we have increasingly seen leaders lose their jobs as a result – most notably former CEO Dido Harding at TalkTalk. But the repercussions of a data breach or loss would be even more damaging if a company failed to safeguard its data under the GDPR.  Equifax, for example, could have been fined up to $124 million if the regulations had already come into effect.

The bottom line is that cyber resilience is critical for every organisation. No one is immune, which is why cyber security must be a top-level priority for organisations, from the boardroom down. Only then can then leaders (and their employees) confidently adopt innovations like IoT to AI and make the right investments for their digital future.