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AI tops investment list for CSOs, says G4S report

Written by Tue 12 Sep 2023

Close to half of Chief Security Officers (CSOs) expect to see their budgets increase significantly in the next year, according to a new Allied Universal and G4S survey.

The World Security Report 2023 found that 46% of respondents intend to ‘significantly increase’ their budgets in the next year.

Artificial intelligence (AI) was top of the agenda for future physical security investments.

In a survey of 1,775 CSOs, the top two barriers in implementing technology were found to be implementation and maintenance costs, as well as a lack of skills in the security workforce.

A significant 90% of CSOs also recognised how cyberthreats are a challenging threat to physical security. The same amount also said they are more concerned with cybersecurity than physical security.

“Executive boards are grappling with balancing physical and cybersecurity alongside other priorities,” said Ashley Almanza, Executive Chairman of G4S.

Data centres were considered at risk through disruption of energy or security breaches linked to cyberattacks.

Internal Threats

Misuse of company resources and data were found to be the most common internal threat at 35%.

Leaking sensitive information came in second at 34%, but is expected to become the biggest threat in the next 12 months. The Asia Pacific region is expected to be most impacted by these incidents.

Unauthorised access to company resources or data, industrial espionage and intellectual property theft are all expected to increase in the next year.

External Threats

Even the most pressing external threats have a link to cybersecurity.

Fraud was predicted to be the biggest external threat, predicted by 25% of CSOs. This was followed by phishing and social engineering (24%).

Much of these threats are driven by financial gain or social causes.

“There is this social kind of impact or social motivation or political motivation whereby the bad actors are there to either hurt a company or socially and politically impact them,” said Steve Jones, Chief Executive at Allied, to Reuters.

The Threat Actors

Threat actors identified included violent criminals, petty criminals, economic criminals, terrorists and subversives (i.e. hackers, protesters, or spies).

Subversives were considered the most dangerous, with 50% of CSOs predicting them to cause the most security incidents.

The Biggest Hazards to Security

The report also identified economic unrest as the biggest hazard affecting security over the next 12 months. This included factors like high inflation and declining living standards.

Other hazards identified were climate change, social unrest, disruption to energy supplies, and war and political instability.

The Impacts of Security Threats

The survey found that some of the world’s biggest companies had lost more than £797 billion ($1 trillion) as a result of physical security incidents in 2022.

These losses were comparable in scale to the financial impacts of more prominent cyberattacks.

“Security threats are more dynamic, convergent, and complicated than they have ever been…there are more ways in than ever before and the impacts are magnified,” said Dave Komendat, former Chief Security Officer at Boeing, in the report.

The survey questioned executives overseeing a combined £526 billion ($660 billion) in security budgets in 2022, or 3.3% of their global revenue.

What is Driving Security Spending?

The top three global drivers for the spending increase include rising operational costs, international economic instability, and domestic security concerns.

Regarding future spending plans, 42% of respondents expressed their intention to invest in AI-powered surveillance for quicker threat detection.

A total of 42% of respondents consider AI and AI-powered surveillance to be at the top of their future investments list for the next 5 years.

Of all respondents, 40% will also invest in biometrics and facial recognition in the next 5 years.

Europe Named ‘Least Advanced’ Region

European companies commonly experienced security threats such as fraud and misuse of company resources or data.

Europe lagged behind as the least advanced region in utilising cutting-edge and emerging technologies, with only 31% adoption. Latin America was ranked highest.

The greatest barrier to technology implementation is the cost to implement, cited by 36%, followed by the cost of maintenance at 34%.

European companies ranked second in the use of basic or minimal technology, with 36% of respondents indicating this as their level of advancement.

What Does the Future Hold for Physical Security?

CSOs will confront a ‘wide range of challenges’. The survey identified technology as a ‘critical enabler’ for future security, where AI and other technologies boost accuracy and reduce repetitive manual tasks.

The survey highlighted the benefit of Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

“An RPA was able to complete reviews of vetting paperwork in significantly less time with 99.6% accuracy, thereby allowing the security officers to focus on strategic work,” said Mary Rose McCaffrey, former Vice President of Security at Northrop Grumman.

The survey also emphasised the need for third-party expertise. It recommended the security community to invest in individuals with necessary technical capabilities, despite the associated cost.

“The security professional of the future will be able to… interact with the technology required to do their job and keep safe the assets they are assigned to protect,” added McCaffrey.

Respondents identified top traits for frontline security officers of the future, including a strong understanding of technology and industry-specific experience.

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Written by Tue 12 Sep 2023

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