Cyber attack is once again the top threat perceived by businesses, according to research by the Business Continuity Institute.  

Eighty eight percent of organizations are either ‘extremely concerned’ or ‘concerned’ about the possibility of a cyber attack, according to the research. The threat of a data breach remains in second place (81 percent), while unplanned IT and telecom outage stays in third place (80 percent).

For the first time in the study’s six-year history, the threat of uncertainty around the introduction of new laws and regulations has entered the list of top 10 business continuity concerns in the Horizon Scan Report.

This year’s global top 10 threats to business continuity are:

  1. Cyber attack – static
  2. Data breach – static
  3. Unplanned IT and telecom outages – static
  4. Security incident – up 1
  5. Adverse weather – up 3
  6. Interruption to utility supply – static
  7. Act of terrorism – down 3
  8. Supply chain disruption – down 1
  9. Availability of key skills – static
  10. New laws or regulations – new entry

For the first time, the survey also asked which disruptions respondents had experienced during the previous year in order to understand what lies behind the worry. The results showed that nine of the top 10 concerns also appeared in the top 10 list of disruptions, with transport network disruption appearing at the expense of act of terrorism. Unplanned IT and telecom outages came in at number one, followed by interruption to utility supply and then cyber attack. Data breach came in at eighth place.

With the top four threats all showing an increasing in level of concern, the study said it is worrying that 14 percent of respondents will experience business continuity budget cuts over the next year, making them less likely to be able to respond effectively to these threats.

Despite growing fears over the resilience of their organizations, the report records another fall in the use of long-term trend analysis to assess and understand threats, down 1 percent to 69 percent this year. Of those carrying out trend analysis, around a third of organizations (32 percent) do not use the results to inform their business continuity management programs.