A newly published report has highlighted a rapid increase in geopolitical risks, swiftly surpassing previous security threats such as terrorism, as the most pressing concern for businesses in today’s global landscape.

The report underscores the growing vulnerabilities posed by geopolitical factors like US-China relations, Russian regional activities, Middle East tensions, and conflicts worldwide.

Prepared by The Clarity Factory, a company specialising in corporate security, cybersecurity, and resilience, the report surveyed senior business figures, including CEOs, Chief Operating Officers, and Chief Security Officers (CSOs) from leading multinational corporations. It reveals the evolving nature of risks faced by businesses and their implications for security and resilience.

Heightened Geopolitical Threats and Cybersecurity Risks

Surveyed leaders ranked cybersecurity (53%) as the top security risk, closely followed by geopolitical risk (51%), and insider risk (40%) as the three biggest security challenges for their organisations. Also, an overwhelming 88% of respondents observed an escalation in geopolitical risks, and 81% noted a surge in cybersecurity threats.

Amidst these evolving threats, traditional concerns like terrorism and security issues such as kidnap or extortion have diminished significantly, with 88% reporting a decrease or no change in the risk of terrorism and 84% in the risk of kidnap and extortion.

Corporate security functions, despite their pivotal role, often lack direct accountability for cybersecurity, despite the interconnectedness of both domains. Only 15% of surveyed CSOs reported having responsibility for cybersecurity, despite over half (58%) agreeing on the essential convergence of corporate and cybersecurity functions for effective risk management.

The report also illuminates the widening scope of risks faced by multinational corporations. Notably, growing social and political pressures now compel companies to adopt active stances on various issues, making them susceptible to attacks. Around 11% of CSOs view activism as one of the three principal security risks for their organisations, with 57% witnessing a rise in such risks.

Business Enabler: The Role of Corporate Security

Corporate security emerges as an indispensable enabler of commercial success amid rising risks. It integrates diverse risk functions, offers nuanced insights for informed decision-making, and boasts robust crisis management capabilities. In an environment marked by interconnected crises, corporate security’s expertise in crisis management becomes pivotal.

Rachel Briggs, CEO of The Clarity Factory, highlighted the imperative role of corporate security in navigating the complex terrain of contemporary risks. With escalating threats like extreme weather events, market volatility, geopolitical unrest, and cyber-attacks, effective crisis management becomes a business-critical function for companies.

The report identifies five critical roles of corporate security, including its function as an integrator offering a unified view of risk, provider of intelligence to enhance decision-making, and facilitator of external networks for insights and support. Additionally, corporate security’s crisis management expertise emerges as a linchpin for addressing ‘polycrisis’ scenarios—multiple catastrophic events occurring simultaneously.

The Clarity Factory’s report underscores the evolving landscape of risks and the imperative for businesses to fortify their security and crisis management capabilities in a fast-changing world.