Three Quarters of U.S. Execs Say a Cyber Attack Could Seriously Disrupt Business

According to a recent RedSeal survey of more than 350 C-level executives at U.S. organizations, 74 percent of respondents said cyber attacks on their networks could cause “serious damage or disruption” to their businesses.

Almost 80 percent of executives said such attacks could inflict “serious impacts to business profitability and growth” and cause “serious brand damage.”

Forty-five percent said cyber attacks could lead to a “big hit on employee productivity,” more than 43 percent said they would cause business downtime, and more than 41 percent said attacks could cause “internal/organizational disruption or chaos.”

“As this research makes clear, securing the network infrastructure to ensure ongoing business operations is not an abstract concern: it’s a vital issue, because a successful attack will have devastating and even far-reaching consequences,” RedSeal CEO Ray Rothrock said in a statement.

With an awareness of how interconnected companies now are, 59 percent of respondents said a successful cyber attack on one company’s network could lead directly to attacks on different networks in diverse but connected sectors of the economy.

“What this survey rightly highlights is that in a hyper-networked economy, where most networks are inextricably linked to each other, a major network attack will be very difficult to isolate,” IT-Harvest chief research analyst Richard Stiennon said in a statement.

“This isn’t an IT or even a basic operational issue — it has national significance, and should be managed accordingly,” Stiennon added.

Separately, a survey [PDF] of more than 1,000 security and IT executives worldwide, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Gemalto, found that while 87 percent of IT decision makers believe their company’s perimeter security is effective at preventing security breaches, 30 percent said their company had been breached in the past 12 months.

Among those that were breached in the past year, 31 percent said the breach caused a delay in product/service development; 30 percent said it caused a decrease in employee productivity; 28 percent said it caused decreased customer confidence; and 24 percent said in resulted in negative press.

Only 10 percent said the breach had no commercial impact on their organization.

And although high-profile data breaches have driven 71 percent of organizations to adjust their security strategies and 83 percent of respondents say their organization is investing in the right security technologies, 62 percent of respondents say they’re no more confident than they were a year ago in the security industry’s ability to detect and defend against emerging security threats.

One third of respondents believe unauthorized users are able to access their company’s network, and 34 percent aren’t confident that their organization’s data would be secure if their network perimeter were penetrated.

“Organizations still place too much emphasis on perimeter security, even though it has proven to be ineffective,” Tsion Gonen, Gemalto’s vice president of strategy for identity and data protection, said in a statement. “Decision makers should place greater importance on customer data, and look to adopt a ‘secure the breach’ approach that focuses on securing the data after intruders penetrate the perimeter defenses.”

Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman has been a technology journalist for more than 20 years and an eSecurity Planet contributor since 2009.

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