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Cyber security tops list of corporate risks for General Counsel

Posted by: Laurence Simons 20/06/16
Data security is the most significant risk facing modern corporations according to a recent report from Kroll, a New York based risk consultancy. Kroll Ontrack’s 2016 Corporate Risk Survey indicates that while 76% of in house counsel positions are filled with personnel who perceive there to be effective safeguards in place to protect their organisations’ intellectual property. However, only 41% of these in house counsels report that their organisation’s Incident Response (IR) is regularly tested and reviewed.

Of the four major corporate concerns highlighted in the survey - which also include fraud, compliance and big data - cyber security was ranked the top priority for in-house professionals. The report, which was surveyed 170 general counsels, revealed that, despite the fact most in-house professionals reported being confident in the effectiveness of their cyber security functions, approximately 59% of the organisations had a ‘non-existent’ or ‘inadequate’ capability.

While in many cases, budget is a limiting factor for general counsels, professionals should be mindful of the budget neutral activities which can help strengthen their defence against an attack. The report highlights the need for more effective cross-departmental communication between legal and IT teams, particularly with the organisation’s head of IT. A staggering 20% of in-house respondents reported that they have never discussed data security with a relevant member of the internal IT department.

With cyber security being such a significant risk for organisations of all sizes, and only 46% of GCs indicating that their data privacy budget is increasing, it is clear that in-house professionals need to effectively communicate with their colleagues in order to strengthen the necessary safeguards. However, given the rapidly evolving nature of cyber-crime, it is likely that there will be a rapid increase in demand to fill in house counsel jobs with professionals possessing experience overseeing the effective implementation of IRs.
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