Cyber-Attacks Cause Consternation in the C-Suite

Nearly three-quarters of the executives surveyed said they felt cyber-attacks on networks of organizations can cause serious damage or disruption.

it security and redseal

A coordinated assault launched by sophisticated cyber-criminals would wreak ongoing havoc on business operations, cause considerable harm to a brand, and potentially affect related companies, even entire industries, according to a report by RedSeal.

The survey of more than 350 C-level executives confirmed that securing the network infrastructure to ensure ongoing business operations is not an abstract concern, but rather a vital issue.

"Modern business infrastructure is extremely intricate. Business applications require expertise from multiple specialists--Web developers, database gurus, storage and networking experts, and more," Mike Lloyd, chief technology officer at RedSeal, told eWEEK. "Understanding the security of business systems of this scale is extremely difficult because there are so many complex moving parts--understanding how it all works so that it can be secured is daunting."

More than half the respondents--52 percent--singled out defense systems as being potentially affected by a cyber-criminal incident or data breach, while 45 percent cited border security.

Nearly six in 10 respondents or 59 percent said such attacks would take their toll on economic security.

Nearly three-quarters of the executives surveyed acknowledged that cyber-attacks on networks of U.S. organizations can cause serious damage or disruption, and 21 percent of respondents admitted to fears of significant damage or disruption.

Almost 80 percent said that such attacks would inflict serious damage to business profitability and growth and bring about serious brand damage.

In addition, 45 percent related personnel concerns, saying such events would lead to a big hit on employee productivity, and more than 43 percent also predicted business downtime.

Forty-one percent of executives said they fear internal or organizational disruption and chaos.

Asked what other areas might be affected by the resulting ripple effects of cyber-attacks, 64 percent cited further business-related security vulnerabilities. More than half cited national vulnerabilities, while 59 percent said they agreed with the possibility of a security domino effect.

"One of the clear results of the C-level cyber-security study is that most professionals are more concerned about the continuous hemorrhage of money lost due to cyber-attacks than about some dramatic Cyber Pearl Harbor," Lloyd said. "All organizations are paying steady costs, both directly from breaches, and to keep up with continuously changing security requirements. From a CFO’s point of view, this is akin to paying ransom money--ransom for their complex IT environment that is too hard to secure by human effort alone. The ransom is paid continuously in relatively small amounts, but that adds up to a large source of business friction, and ultimately becomes the same kind of national or collective issue as piracy."

Lloyd explained this is why automation is essential, saying that human defenders cannot bridge the complexity gap.