West Midlands businesses poorly prepared for cyber terrorism

THE West Midlands is one of the most poorly-prepared regions in England when it comes to potential business-related terrorism, a new study has shown.

Security consultant ACTIS, which advises businesses on counter-terrorism, terrorism, intelligence and security studies, said it believed more than 80% of the organisations it surveyed would fail a simple counter-terrorism preparedness test, thereby leaving them and their staff at risk,

ACTIS has used the survey to launch as series of consultation programmes designed to help organisations counteract any security risk. Businesses will be able to assess their ‘threat-readiness’ via a self-assessment tool.

In launching the project, ACTIS said it aimed to help both the public and private sectors better prepare for, respond to, mitigate against and recover from, serious attacks and emergency situations that arise from all forms of modern warfare, cyber hacktivism and terrorism.

It said that according to START – the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism in the US – there have been over 600 terrorist events on UK soil since 1970, while figures from insurer AXA show that over 80% of UK businesses that face such a major incident never reopen or close with 18 months.

The survey concluded that:

•    54% of respondents have never checked or checked in the past year whether any sensitive information about their organisation (financial records, building plans, evacuation procedures etc) is openly available in the public domain. This rises to 56% within the manufacturing industry.
•    40% of respondents have never prepared a list of potential risks to their business – including 62% of those surveyed within the retail industry and 41% within the construction industry.
•     Just over a third (34%) said their companies did not enforce any sort of computer password policy. This rises to 42% within the retail sector.

Daniel Neubauer, President of ACTIS said: “In these uncertain times, security practitioners, business leaders, and heads of our public sector institutions cannot afford to ignore the risk posed by an increasingly unpredictable threat landscape fuelled by the growth of physical terrorism and cyber hacktivism.”