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Tuesday, 06 November 2018 05:30

Cyber-attacks and IT outages are the main threat to supply chains

Non-physical threats top this year’s causes of disruption, while the uptake of business continuity arrangements continues to grow


LONDON, UK – Cyber-attacks and data breaches (49%) are the most concerning challenge for professionals both over the next 12 month and the next five years. That is according to the 2018 BCI Supply Chain Resilience Report, published today by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) in collaboration with Zurich Insurance Group.

Other concerns over the next five years also include IT outages (41%) and adverse weather (39%), which are often connected to one another, as IT outages can be a consequence of both adverse weather and cyber-attacks. Over the next twelve months, concerns include health issues, as human illness (25%) and health and safety (24%) feature among the top 10 future challenges.

Following the trend of 2017, the uptake of business continuity arrangements continues to grow. An increasing number of organizations embed business continuity to protect their supply chains. On the other hand, top management commitment, a key factor to ensuring resilience, declined from 2017, from 41% to 33%.

Technology employment to analyse disruptions is still low (38%) and those organizations that use it rely on traditional software rather than advanced solutions. However, the minority of organizations that use technology solutions are more successful at analysing incidents among their suppliers.

There is also an upward trend regarding organizations that have insurance coverage. However, the report highlights that respondents who stated to not have any sort of insurance are not aware of the reason. This reveals a possible awareness gap that could be costly for organizations.

Other findings in the report include:

  • Reporting of supply chain disruptions has increased since 2017, going from 70% to 73%, and overall the majority of organizations have consistently shown a growing level of reporting over previous years (68% on average).
  • The number of organizations suffering a disruption in the past 12 months has decreased – from 65% to 56%. However, the number of organizations not aware about disruptions has grown – from 10% in 2017 to 16% in 2018.
  • 52% (8% more than 2017) organizations reported supply chain disruptions among their Tier 1 suppliers, while an increased number of responders (+8% since 2017) admitted to not analysing the full extent if their supply chain in case of disruption.
  • The threat landscape for supply chains has changed since 2017. While unplanned IT and communications outages (53%) remain the top cause of disruption, adverse weather (41%) follows up (rising from sixth place in 2017) with cyber-attacks and data breaches (33%), loss of talent/skills (30%), and transport network disruption (27%).

David Thorp, Executive Director of the BCI, comments: “Supply chains are exposed to risks and threats of various nature. As organizations become increasingly interconnected through global networks, their growing complexity makes them more vulnerable to disruptions. Through the years we have seen higher levels of awareness and adoption of best practices, and we are moving towards more resilient supply chains. However, opportunities of refinement are still there and collaboration among network is an essential element in keeping the supply chain intact.”

Note on the online survey: 589 respondents were from 76 countries.

About the Business Continuity Institute (BCI)

Founded in 1994 with the aim of promoting a more resilient world, the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) has established itself as the world’s leading Institute for business continuity and resilience. The BCI has become the membership and certifying organization of choice for business continuity and resilience professionals globally with over 8,000 members in more than 100 countries, working in an estimated 3,000 organizations in the private, public and third sectors.

The vast experience of the Institute’s broad membership and partner network is built into its world class education, continuing professional development and networking activities. Every year, more than 1,500 people choose BCI training, with options ranging from short awareness raising tools to a full academic qualification, available online and in a classroom. The Institute stands for excellence in the resilience profession and its globally recognised Certified grades provide assurance of technical and professional competency. The BCI offers a wide range of resources for professionals seeking to raise their organization’s level of resilience, and its extensive thought leadership and research programme helps drive the industry forward. With approximately 120 Partners worldwide, the BCI Partnership offers organizations the opportunity to work with the BCI in promoting best practice in business continuity and resilience.

The BCI welcomes everyone with an interest in building resilient organizations from newcomers, experienced professionals and organizations. Further information about the BCI is available at

About Zurich Insurance Group

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. With around 55,000 employees, it provides a wide range of general insurance and life insurance products and services. Zurich’s customers include individuals, small businesses, and mid-sized and large companies, including multinational corporations, in more than 170 countries. The Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1872. The holding company, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd (ZURN), is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt (ZURVY) program, which is traded over-the-counter on OTCQX. Further information about Zurich is available at