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4/21/2015
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Study Uncovers Fears of Potential Domino Effect from Cyberattacks

While most C-level executives say cyberattacks can cause serious disruption to their own operation, many also express concerns about farther-reaching impact on the broader infrastructure at the local, state and national level

RSA Conference, SAN FRANCISCO — April 20, 2015 — RedSeal (redseal.co), the cybersecurity certification company, today unveiled its comprehensive survey of high-ranking executives that vividly illustrates widespread concern regarding the potential effects of cyberattacks in corporate America. Most of the C-level professionals surveyed readily acknowledge that a coordinated assault launched by sophisticated cybercriminals would wreak ongoing havoc on business operations, cause considerable harm to a brand, and potentially affect related companies, even entire industries. In addition, many also point out that in the networked economy, containing the problems caused by a sustained network attack will be very difficult. In fact, a major network disruption at a single company or network can easily disrupt or even wreak havoc on a local, state, national and even global level.

 “As this research makes clear, securing the network infrastructure to ensure ongoing business operations is not an abstract concern: It’s a vital issue, because a successful attack will have devastating and even far-reaching consequences,” said Ray Rothrock, chairman and CEO of RedSeal. “A coordinated, 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. I’ve been investing in cybersecurity for 25 years, and I see how the level of sophistication in cyberattacks has increased dramatically in just the past few years.”

The RedSeal study surveyed more than 350 C-level executives (CEOs, CIOs, CISOs and CSOs). All are at organizations with 250 or more employees, and at least 20% lead companies with more than 1,000 employees. The answers offer a clear view into corporate America’s concerns over cybersecurity and the potential fallout from attacks on the network infrastructure.

The vast majority of the executives surveyed, 74%, acknowledge that cyberattacks on networks of U.S. organizations can cause “serious damage or disruption,” and most of the rest, 21%, admit to fears of “significant damage or disruption.” More specifically, almost 80% admit that such attacks can inflict “serious impacts to business profitability and growth,” and bring about “serious brand damage.” A large number, 45%, also related personnel concerns, saying such events will lead to a “big hit on employee productivity.” More than 43% also predict business downtime, while more than 41% fear “internal/organizational disruption or chaos.”

Moreover, many of the respondents are also very aware that in this intricately networked economy, it will be very difficult to contain the problems once an attack begins. Asked what other areas might be affected by the “resulting ripple effects of cyberattacks on one network,” a clear majority, 64%, cited “further business-related security vulnerabilities.” More than half, 56%, went further, citing “national vulnerabilities,” and an even larger number, 59%, agreed with the possibility of a security domino effect.

In fact, the idea of a domino effect—one successful attack on one network leading directly to attacks on different networks in diverse but connected sectors of the economy—clearly resonated strongly with the executives surveyed. More than half the respondents, 52%, singled out “defense systems” as being potentially affected by a cyber-criminal incident or data breach, while 45% cited “border security.” And taking a big picture approach, a significant 59% said such attacks will take their toll on “economic security.”

Judging by the responses, most important sectors of the economy will be severely affected. These include:

·         Financial/Banking: 53%

·         Energy/Utilities: 46%

·         Government or critical infrastructure functions: 41%

·         Stock exchange/trading: 41%

·         Healthcare: 35%

“What this survey rightly highlights is that in a hyper-networked economy, where most networks are inextricably linked to each other, a major network attack will be very difficult to isolate,” said Richard Stiennon of IT-Harvest. “This isn’t an IT or even a basic operational issue—it has national significance, and should be managed accordingly.”

About RedSeal (redseal.co)

RedSeal provides a cybersecurity analytics platform to Global 2000 organizations that certifies their evolving networks are secure and accelerates compliance initiatives. RedSeal’s advanced analytics engine creates functioning network models, tests networks to identify security risks, prioritizes needed actions, and provides critical information to quickly remediate issues. The result: reduced cybersecurity risk and lower incident response and maintenance costs. With operations in North America, Europe, and Asia, RedSeal customers include leaders in finance, retail, technology, utilities, service providers, and government, all served by RedSeal’s channel partner network. 

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