Fire, terrorism, cybercrime and corporate espionage to be biggest threats: PwC-ASIS survey

Growing threats of terrorism, natural disasters and increasing instances of social unrest have made physical security one of the biggest concerns for corporate India. A large number of companies feel the existing security standards, legal, regulatory and compliance frameworks in the industry were not adequate to support corporate security requirements in India. This is according to a survey by PwC India and American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS).

A majority of the survey respondents felt that that the industry is not fully equipped to promptly respond to natural disasters, which is clear indicator for organisations to take a serious look at business continuity/crisis management strategies of organisations to effectively respond to natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.

However, many organisations have woken to the implications of physical security over the past few years and there has been a conscious effort from organisations in form of additional and proactive measures to ensure better safety arrangements. While five years back physical security assessment was rare and uncommon, today almost 46% per cent of the organisations surveyed in India conduct a physical security risk assessment once a year, whereas 17% do it monthly.

Dinesh Anand, Partner and Leader-Forensic Services India said, “Over the past few years, corporate India has witnessed a steady increase in the number of physical security threats and breaches. While we have very little control over occurrences such as floods, earthquakes and terror attacks, we do have control over the ways we can safeguard our businesses and people against them. Unfortunately physical security takes a back seat in business operations and most of the steps taken by organisations are reactionary rather than preventive. Organisations need to pay attention to the potential physical security risks and do something about them.”

“It is critical for security professionals and management to be aligned and work together to identify potential strategic security threats and prepare a plan for resilience and sustenance of their business. There is a strong need for public-private partnerships and involvement of industry veterans in the policymaking process, besides the need for setting up a compliance standard for baseline requirements and benchmarks for physical security. The Private Security Agencies (Regulation) (PSAR) Act, 2005 also needs to be reviewed,” Anand added.

The reports unveils that cybercrime and corporate espionage have been rated as two of the most serious threats to organisations in the coming years. This indicates the need for stronger collaboration between the domains of cyber security and physical security on account of interlinkages between the information and physical world. Terrorism being the second important threat, organisations need to beef up their training and awareness programmes and work in close collaboration with the law enforcement agencies.

The physical security environment in India is still evolving and there is a wide gap between government policies and their implementation. Providing actionable security intelligence was considered as a key enabler by a majority of the respondents and more than half of the respondents (54%) reported the need for stringent but simplified laws and regulations for industry and for promoting the use of common industry practices. Corporate India is waking up to the need for having robust security-related programmes in place and this is also leading to growing demand for Strategic Threat Advisors.