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Top 5 macro security risks European businesses faced in 2023

Securitas reveals the top security risks European businesses faced in 2023, highlighting the growing importance of risk intelligence and integrated solutions.

The past year was a mosaic of unpredictable events, and businesses across Europe felt the impact. From armed conflict and terrorist attacks to inflationary pressures and extreme weather incidents, businesses faced multifaceted risks that demanded agility and resilience.

As we kick off the new year, let’s take a closer look at the threats and risks that impacted businesses. In doing so, we can glean insights into the evolving nature of threats and understand how security and risk intelligence can proactively fortify a business’ defenses.

"In a dynamic world where threats are increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, businesses face a new frontier of challenges that demand a proactive and strategic approach to security," says Mike Evans, director of Securitas’ Risk Intelligence Center (RIC).

The RIC – which offers real-time, actionable intelligence to organizations worldwide – has identified the top five macro risks that were most predominant throughout 2023, based on the number of occurrences and key client concerns. These include, in no specific order or rank:

  • Climate change and natural disasters
  • Backlash against ESG initiatives
  • Activism
  • Terrorism and extremism
  • Espionage

Climate change and natural disasters

The year witnessed a barrage of climate-related events in many parts of Europe, from droughts and heatwaves to earthquakes and floods. These incidents disrupted supply chains, transportation networks, and energy production, placing businesses under increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions.

Backlash against ESG initiatives

With a heightened focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, some businesses faced criticism of their policies or actions. Online campaigns, disinformation, and non-violent protests became tools for exerting pressure, showcasing the vulnerability of businesses to reputational damage amidst growing concerns over climate change, inequality, and corruption.

Activism

Public unrest and industrial action surged amid a cost-of-living crisis, with climate activists leading protests against industries perceived as environmental offenders. Secondary targets, including the global banking sector, found themselves caught in the crossfire, facing property damage and staff intimidation. The year illuminated the intertwined nature of public sentiment, business operations, and security risks.

Terrorism and extremism

In a world marked by political and socio-economic instability, terrorism and extremism continued to pose significant threats. Emerging technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles and encrypted messenger systems, were leveraged in attacks, requiring businesses to maintain a constant state of awareness. The ripple effects of terrorism, including national security measures, proved disruptive for international businesses.

Espionage

The threat of industrial espionage loomed large, with nation states and private organizations utilizing sophisticated, low-cost and highly effective operations, including the use of spyware recording and monitoring devices. Social media became a weapon, cultivating insiders within businesses and turning them into potential threats. The consequences of such a breach – which may lead to loss of intellectual property, reputation damage, revenue loss, and a collapse in share value – can be catastrophic for a business.

How risk intelligence helps build business resilience

As businesses navigate an increasingly interconnected world, the importance of security has grown beyond traditional measures. It now plays a pivotal role in building business resilience. And organizations that leverage security intelligence, such as that provided by the Risk Intelligence Center, can gain a proactive edge.

“It's not just about defense; it's about staying one step ahead in identifying and mitigating potential risks,” Mike says. “As we face an uncertain future, having the right intel at the right time is paramount. Just as important is having a trusted security partner that’s equipped with data-driven intelligence and a proactive mindset.”

As we turn the page to a new chapter, the lessons learned become catalysts for innovation and proactive strategies. With a commitment to leveraging intelligence, adapting to evolving threats, and fostering partnerships with trusted security providers, businesses are well-poised to face the future and all that 2024 may bring.