Cyber-attacks and data breach are amongst the top threats facing any business – the news is constantly highlighting global organisations (including well known trusted household names) that have suffered attacks at the hands of cyber criminals. Not only does this affect the personal data and credit card details of millions of customers, it also affects reputation and brand value and people’s confidence in doing business online. Moreover, the impact of these attacks can ultimately have catastrophic effects on the security of the nation depending on the target of the attack –no organisation is safe from airlines to banking to healthcare. If Amazon, Cathay Pacific, the NHS, Marriott Starwood Hotels and Uber are vulnerable then so are you and your organisation.

A recent joint report from the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) and the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School entitled: Risk Management Perspectives of Global Corporations highlighted the security of enterprises Including cyber security, business continuity and crisis management as amongst the top risks of those surveyed (which included IRM’s membership and Cambridge’s Chief Risk Officer (CRO) and ERM communities). It also recognised the disruption to business models and new approaches to old problems that are being enabled by new technology, from blockchain to artificial intelligence, all of which bring opportunity and risk, including ethical challenges. 

The Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies’ Academic Director, Professor Daniel Ralph, said:

 “Corporations must contend with both internal and external risks that threaten their business models. Their stakeholders are keenly aware of the many potential factors impacting corporate profitability and longevity, thus greater transparency in risk reporting will be expected in the future.”

Companies go to vast expense to try to protect their organisations from such attacks but digital safety and security ultimately comes down to good enterprise risk management principles and practices. 

Recently Alex Younger, Chief of the UK’s MI6 security service, , addressed students at St Andrews University around the threats of cyber and national security and how humans need to interact with artificial intelligence in the era of the 4th Industrial revolution.

Ian Livsey, Chief Executive at the IRM says “IRM supports the comments from MI6 on cyber threats. Never have we been at such risk from new ways of data interception and misuse of companies’ sensitive information. This can affect not only customers but also extended supply chains.