RedSeal, a cybersecurity certification company, unveiled a survey of high-ranking executives at the RSA Conference that vividly illustrates widespread concern regarding the potential effects of cyber attacks in corporate America.

Most of the C-level professionals surveyed readily acknowledge that a coordinated assault launched by sophisticated cybercriminals would wreak ongoing havoc on business operations, cause considerable harm to a brand, and potentially affect related companies, even entire industries. In addition, many also point out that in the networked economy, containing the problems caused by a sustained network attack will be very difficult. In fact, a major network disruption at a single company or network can easily disrupt or even wreak havoc on a local, state, national and even global level.

The RedSeal study surveyed more than 350 C-level executives (CEOs, CIOs, CISOs and CSOs). All are at organizations with 250 or more employees, and at least 20% lead companies with more than 1,000 employees. The answers offer a clear view into corporate America’s concerns over cybersecurity and the potential fallout from attacks on the network infrastructure.

The comments reflects the growing angst about these escalating attacks.

  • 74%, acknowledge that cyber attacks on networks of U.S. organizations can cause “serious damage or disruption.”
  • 21%, admit to fears of “significant damage or disruption.”
  • 80% admit that such attacks can inflict “serious impacts to business profitability and growth,” and bring about “serious brand damage.”
  • 45% related personnel concerns, saying such events will lead to a “big hit on employee productivity.”
  • 43% also predict business downtime.
  • 41% fear “internal/organizational disruption or chaos.”

Many of the respondents are also very aware that in this intricately networked economy, it will be very difficult to contain the problems once an attack begins. The idea of a domino effect — one successful attack on one network leading directly to attacks on different networks in diverse but connected sectors of the economy — clearly resonated strongly with the executives surveyed.