Managing Threats and Business Disruption Risk

September 8, 2022 · READ

As many experienced in early 2020, when the WHO declared a global pandemic, unexpected business disruption risk can come from anywhere and impact every part of your company, from operational efficiency to ROI. Disruption means your business’s ability to continue as expected or planned is compromised.

True business disruption forces a complete change from normalcy, not just an adaptation to it. The event can be dangerous and force you to adapt or modify your standard operating procedures (SOPs) to maintain operations and stay open. (Think: extreme weather events or global disease outbreaks.)  

Exposure to these threats can seem overwhelming, especially without proper policies and solutions to detect and protect your business from them. However, you can’t mitigate what you don’t understand. So the first step in effectively preventing business disruption due to a threat begins with understanding the risks that leave you vulnerable to it, so you can proactively strategize a threat protection plan.

8 Risks That Contribute To Business Disruption

Both manufactured and natural risks may contribute to business disruption in different ways and with unique consequences. These threats can be your organization’s downfall if poorly addressed. But being aware of these risks can also push your risk management and mitigation to the next level, providing an opportunity to develop a threat protection strategy. Knowing the most common risks helps you better survey, detect and respond to your risk and threat landscape.

1. Technical breakdowns

While technology and machinery offer countless benefits to companies in all industries, there’s no such thing as perfection. Machinery breaks. Production gets bottlenecked. Technology has bugs. Any of these breakdowns can result in downtime, slowed production, or even shutdowns that seriously threaten your entire business and your bottom line. Slowed production and shutdowns have a trickle-down effect. Clients get upset when you can’t deliver on time and may cancel their contracts. Fewer contracts lead to a decrease in revenue, which could keep you from having the resources needed to fix the problems that got you there in the first place.  

Don’t ignore maintenance or repairs until systems break. Instead, use internal auditing and IT risk management software to gain operational oversight. Resolver’s Risk Intelligence platform allows you to keep all your risk data centralized and create simple workflows that automatically notify relevant stakeholders as soon as an alert is triggered. The more you know about your real-time IT and technical operations, the better you can proactively identify and prevent potential breakdowns, protecting your workforce, product delivery, and brand reputation from unwanted business disruptions.

2. Cyber events

Over 2.2 billion people were affected by data breaches or other adverse events in 2018 alone. These technological events — often created through hackers and dark web networks — result in revenue, information, and production loss, requiring increased time and resources to recover.  Resolver’s IT Risk Management software can centralize all your risks, threats, and vulnerabilities and align controls to best practice frameworks and regulations to better protect your assets. But while we think of cyber events and attacks as an IT risk issue, often, the gaps in awareness of the first line can unintentionally create a corporate security risk with IT and data consequences.  

Not all cyber events directly affect your production, but they can profoundly impact your business relationships with customers and the media. How you manage them can be the difference between quickly recovering your public image or not.

For example, hackers received limited information in their 2021 ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, the largest petroleum pipeline in the US. However, Colonial failed to act quickly, paying over $4.4 million in damages. Heavily criticized by the press, Colonial has yet to recover fully.

Resolver’s Threat Protection application can help prevent these types of cyber threats by scanning open source intel (OSINT) to help you collect, tag, and link threat intelligence from internal and external sources in a central dashboard from which you can create reports, action plans, and workflows. For example, our Threat Protection partner integrations can scan the dark web to pick up chatter by bad actors and help identify a hacker group that may be discussing your organization. Maximize the likelihood of early discovery and mitigate risks before they materialize into costly and avoidable incidents, giving you stronger threat protection.

3. Unforeseen catastrophes

Floods, earthquakes, fires, explosions, and other unforeseeable disasters have economic consequences capable of crippling even the most successful business. Physical property damage, product damage, and even employee injuries pose cost increases that impact every part of your business. Not many companies have the liquid flexibility to accommodate one — let alone more than one — of these significant threats.

Consider the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane damaged the Port of New Orleans, which ferried over 20% of America’s total cargo tonnage, forcing it elsewhere. The inability to use the port slowed the national supply chain and increased transportation costs in countless industries. A similarly massive impact on transportation and supply chain industries happened when a large cargo ship called the Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal for six days in March 2021, freezing up a daily USD$10 billion in trade.

4. Pandemic outbreaks

Pandemics pose a substantial threat to your business because of their direct impact on your workforce. The spread of mass outbreaks and health-related events have a ripple effect. When people stay home due to sickness — or to reduce the spread of illness — it negatively impacts your bottom line. While remote work is becoming more common, it can mean more downtime, less coverage, and longer customer wait times, creating business losses if done inefficiently.

For example, nearly every business in the world is still recovering from the continued aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, which created a 15% increase in manufacturing and labor costs. As a result, companies fronting these costs faced increased financial threats, whereas those that couldn’t manage the inflation experienced losing workers and productivity.

5. Physical threats to site or supply chain

When you have a physical location with people or other assets, threats to your site can be catastrophic.

Supply chain disruptions pose a serious risk, including interrupted production, sales, and distribution processes. A strong supply chain is crucial to helping your company grow and scale, and any natural disruption to your supply chain creates delays or cost increases you can’t afford. While we know many businesses know their enterprise is vulnerable to “acts of God,” there are practical tools you can put in place to limit your exposure.

If a single location or provider of a service or product goes down, your business could come to a halt. Our Threat Protection application helps teams monitor — and get ahead of — site disruption that may happen through activism, sabotage, or bad actors, and help to detect and identify Persons of Interest (POI).  

6. Threats to Executives

It may sound like the plot of a Denzel Washington movie, but traveling CEOs and other high-ranking executives can be vulnerable to intimidation, abduction, and hostage scenarios. CEOs and executives hold decision-making authority and unique knowledge critical to business success. An event of this scale could cause your company stock to tank, impacting your business continuity.

Resolver’s Threat Protection application could help prevent an attack on a CEO by scanning OSINT for threat intelligence like chatter by bad actors plotting malicious interference with a visiting CEO or other business executive representing your company. Security teams can then work with local authorities and security services to provide crucial information to ensure adequate protocols and protection are in place.

7. Brand threats

From counterfeiting to intentional misinformation campaigns, threats to your brand can have a massive impact on your business. Deep Fakes, a type of video content creation that uses artificial intelligence to superimpose anyone’s face onto anyone’s body, can make it look like someone at your company is engaged in nefarious activity. (A popular TikTok account does this regularly with the actor Keanu Reeves.) Meme culture and the habit our society has developed of sharing content without verifying its source can lead to the rapid proliferation of content and information that makes your organization look bad.

In July of 2o2o, online furnishing and home goods retailer Wayfair Inc. found themselves entangled in accusations of child sexual exploitation by conspiracy theorists who shared the “fake news” story across their networks. While Wayfair’s leadership acted quickly to dispel online gossip (a strategic attack has never been confirmed) and protect their brand, the event was like an alarm bell for many organizations.

With Resolver’s Threat Protection software, teams can pick up signals from the open and dark web, which helps point you to where a sabotage video or false information campaign is coming from so you can address it before it destroys your brand reputation.

8. Workplace violence incidents

While unlikely to create a severe threat to business continuity, workplace violence incidents impact employees’ mental health. Feeling unsafe at work has real consequences on how your workforce feels, which can affect productivity and influence service product quality, output, and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Our Threat Protection solution can prevent this type of harmful event and protect your employees by monitoring for Persons of Interest logged through internal incident reports. Then investigations teams can use OSINT to investigate whether an employee is just having a bad day or may be a bigger harm to another employee or your larger workforce and merits a complete case file or investigation.  

How Threat Intelligence Benefits Business Continuity

Despite their desire to proactively get ahead of incidents, many security professionals have been frustrated by the inability to identify and mitigate threats for a few reasons reliably.

  • The massive volume of signals generated by a large enterprise makes picking up warning signs challenging.
  • Most security teams struggle to build strong profiles for potential threats quickly and are not trained in applying threat assessment methodologies. Thus, they find it hard to assess threats at scale reliably.
  • With many facing organizational siloed systems and diffusely-located teams, ensuring a timely and accurate threat response is difficult.
  • Addressing vulnerabilities before an incident materializes requires organizational buy-in through detailed reporting and accurate measurement of the benefits and effectiveness of past programs.

It’s not enough to understand the risks that contribute to business disruption. You must be able to rank their severity and urgency to utilize your resources best and mitigate the most significant threat first. And to do this effectively, reducing false alerts and ensuring threat, case, and investigation teams have the correct data and intel to have an actionable follow-up, you need a technology solution.

Threat intelligence, also called risk intelligence, is a security concept that uses AI-driven technology to proactively establish a more accurate understanding of your risk and possible threats. The better you understand your threat landscape, the better you can protect your organization from a complete business disruption through threat strategy and action plans.  

How Resolver Helps Minimize Business Disruption Risk

Risk intelligence lets you transform risk from a disruptive factor to a value driver that reduces coordination fatigue and ensures effective resource and communication allocation. While a one-off software might meet your needs, having a partner that maximizes your return with risk intelligence, investigations and case management, incident management, and threat protection in one simple-to-use, no-code platform is even better.

Resolver’s Threat Protection application manages threat intelligence alerts from any source, enabling security teams to find connections across data sets and spot early warning signs. In addition, our fully integrated case management solution ensures potential threats are evaluated comprehensively to help determine the right course of action and prevent potential threats from causing business disruption. From there, our notifications, workflows, and reports make driving mitigating actions and showcasing the value of your threat program streamlined and easy. Additionally, Resolver can integrate with existing internal reporting systems (including hotline, email, and exception reports) to deliver unparalleled visibility to threat teams. With Resolver’s embedded IPaaS, you can integrate with any third-party data feeds your organization subscribes to.    

Learn more about Resolver’s Threat Protection application, reach out to a sales representative today, or request a demo to see it in action.


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