Private sector largely ignorant of cyber threat

From managing supply chains to storing intellectual property, the internet has opened global markets and revolutionized modern business practices.  Yet, while providing new opportunities, reliance on the Web has also exposed new vulnerabilities.  McAfee estimates that in 2008 alone, “companies worldwide lost more than $1 trillion” from IP and data theft.  A recently released PricewaterhouseCoopers report on the rising threat of e-espionage asks: “Are companies aware and ready to respond?”  In general, the simple answer is, “No.”

In a survey of over 7,000 executives and directors of IT and information security in 119 countries, PwC reports widespread ignorance.  Over 30% of respondents worldwide could not answer basic questions about risks to their company’s most sensitive information, and 35% admitted not even knowing how many security incidents have occurred.  Furthermore, of those with knowledge of breaches, 44% admitted not knowing what kind of incidents occurred, and 42% didn’t know the source of the attack.

“Weak cybersecurity dilutes our investment in innovation while subsidizing research and development efforts of foreign competitors...failing to secure cyberspace puts us at a disadvantage,” reads The Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency.  Yet, the McAfee study concluded that developing countries are out-spending their Western counterparts: Corporations in Brazil, China, and India invested more securing in IP for completive advantage than those in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Japan.  

In 2008, while the U.S. economy languished and unemployment and foreclosures spiked, China’s GDP grew by 9.8%, India’s by 6.6%, and Brazil’s by 5.2  For the U.S., protecting IP is crucial to securing returns from the innovation in ICT and green technology that will drive future economic growth.  As the threat of e-espionage increases, so must Corporate America’s readiness and response.