Across a range of industry sectors, 60 percent of senior strategic and IT decision makers plan to increase their cyber security budgets over the next 12 months, and 78 percent cited attacks in December and January as having had a significant influence on their decision, according to BAE Systems Applied Intelligence. And, according to “Global Risks 2014,” published by the World Economic Forum in January, cyber attacks are among the five biggest threats the world now faces.

Separate research from BAE finds that cyber attacks now are one of the top three business risks, according to 53 percent of the U.S. businesses surveyed, and 82 percent said they expected the number of such attacks to increase over the next two years, according to “Business and the Cyber Threat: the rise of Digital Criminality,” a multinational survey conducted by BAE Systems, which includes 300 online interviews with participants in the United States and 50 in Canada; 38 percent were from finance and insurance industries, BAE said.

“What this research clearly shows is that U.S. businesses are increasingly aware of the cyber threat and have a range of counter measures in place,” said Martin Sutherland, managing director, BAE Systems. “However, digital crime as a whole a dangerous combination of organized groups of criminals using cyber techniques to carry out financial crime is also a major concern, particularly since the most recent wave of high-profile attacks.

The group deemed most likely to perpetrate attacks are “organized groups of fraudsters,” according to 52 percent of respondents in the United States and 55 percent of the entire group of participants. “This would seem to point to a concern around the potential damage of cyber-enabled fraud attacks of precisely the nature experienced by Target and others,” BAE said.

Those surveyed said as they adapt business practices for a hyper-connected world, their exposure to cyber attacks is increasing; 72 percent of North American respondents said the cyber risk posed by mobile technologies was significant, but only 61 percent said they were confident they understood the risks, BAE said.

A quarter of the North American organizations surveyed agreed that their board does not yet fully appreciate the business risk posed by targeted cyber attacks, and an additional 6 percent strongly agreed.

Highlights from U.S. participants:

  • 29 percent said a successful cyber attack could cost their organization more than $75 million, another 20 percent said more than $15 million.
  • 61 percent said they were most concerned about customer data, 61 percent, followed by theft of intellectual property, 47 percent; reputation damage through exposure of commercially sensitive information, 32 percent; interruption of service, 25 percent; and financial fraud, 21 percent.
  • 88 percent said they were confident in their organization’s ability to prevent targeted cyber attacks; 77 percent said they were confident in their sector’s ability to prevent attacks.
  • 28 percent do not have or were unaware of crisis plans in the event of a cyber attack; of those participants with crisis plans, 56 percent said they were well publicized.
  • Of participants who had encountered cyber-enabled fraud, 55 percent of U.S. respondents said they expect cyber to play an increasing role in financial fraud.

“And as the number of avenues open to criminals in a hyper-connected world increases, we are seeing a genuine hunger from businesses for a clearer understanding of their own vulnerabilities and up to the minute cyber threat intelligence,” Sutherland said.

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