Domino Effect of Cyber Attacks Feared by Execs

A study has revealed more than half of US top executives fear not only serious disruption of their own operations, but also the impact of cyber attacks on national infrastructure.

Security firm RedSeal surveyed C-level professionals and found that most of them believe a co-ordinated assault launched by sophisticated cyber criminals could wreak ongoing havoc on business operations, cause considerable harm to a brand and potentially affect related companies or even entire industries.

Many said that in the networked economy, containing the problems caused by a sustained network attack will come with great difficulty. They also fear that a major network disruption at a single company or network could disrupt infrastructure at a local, national and global level.

Chairman and CEO of RedSeal, Ray Rothrock said: "A co-ordinated, sophisticated and large-scale assault will not stay within the walls of the company being attacked. It could easily trigger a domino effect and cause widespread disruption, reaching companies in other sectors and even the national grid."

The survey included more than 350 C-level executives, including CIOs, and revealed that 74% acknowledge cyber attacks on networks of organisations can cause "serious damage or disruption" with 21% admitting to fears of "significant damage or disruption".

Nearly 80% said such attacks could inflict "serious impacts to business profitability and growth" and cause "serious brand damage". 45% were also concerned that such attacks could lead to a "big hit on employee productivity". More than 43% predict business downtime, while more than 41% fear internal disruption in an organisation.

More than half of the respondents singled out "defence systems" as being potentially affected by a data breach or cybercriminal incident. 45% cited "border security" and 59% said such attacks could affect economic security.

Back in 2011, the UK revealed its UK Cyber Security Strategy after cyber security was listed as one of the top national security threats against the UK in the 2010 security strategy review.

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