Report: Kenya anticipates rising corporate security threats in 2024

An illustration of corporate cybersecurity threat. [Getty Images]

Kenya will face some of the highest rates of corporate security threats in the world in the next year, a new report published by G4S says.

The threats, including supply chain attacks, malicious damage to company property and violence against employees, could have a serious impact on business continuity for large, global companies operating in Kenya.

Other threats include fraud, leaking of sensitive information and competitor sabotage. Other security breaches in the future will come from pandemics, climate change, war, and political instability.

The first-ever World Security Report finds that chief security officers in Kenya view subversion from hackers, protestors, and spies as more of a concern than any other country globally at 63 per cent. This compares with a regional average of 58 per cent and a global average of 50 per cent.

The report is from a survey of 1,775 chief security officers or those in equivalent roles in 30 countries serving in large global companies that have a combined annual revenue of $20 trillion in 2022, almost a quarter of the world's total annual gross domestic product (GDP).

The report categorised both internal and external threats and showed how big corporations will increase their budgets exponentially to combat these threats.

For example, the report shows the biggest internal threats Kenyan businesses expect to face next year include the misuse of company resources or data, standing at 63 per cent, compared with a regional average of 49 per cent and a global average of 35 per cent.

In addition, leaking of sensitive information and unauthorized access to company data or networks are also more of a concern among Kenya-based security officers than anywhere else globally at 52 per cent while internal fraud, intellectual property theft, and the theft of company physical property by employees is expected to be a greater threat next year than in any other country.

To counteract some of the threat, 69 per cent of local security officers will be utilising biometrics and facial recognition technology over the next five years, higher than the regional average of 59 per cent and the global average is 40 per cent.

"Kenya has one of the strongest economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. We receive a lot of investment, are tech-savvy and are a regional hub for companies in East and Central Africa. But while there is great reward from operating here, there is risk too. Global companies will need to be laser-focused on their security over the coming year given they expect to face some of the highest rates of internal and external threats in the World," says Laurence Okelo, managing director of G4S Kenya.

A greater number of security officers in Kenya said they faced business interruption costs and a loss of revenue following a security incident than any other country. At 37 per cent, Kenya was the second-highest country to report a fall in value or stock price following a security incident.

The research highlights how security incidents have a far greater impact on business continuity in Kenya, with 35 per cent saying their supply chain was disrupted.

Globally, respondent companies spend around $660 billion annually in security budgets, representing 3.3 per cent of their revenue.

"In 2022 alone, more than USD $1 trillion in revenue was lost by companies as a consequence of internal and external physical security incidents. This is similar to the monetary impact caused by cyber incidents. One in four (25 per cent) of publicly-listed companies reported a drop in their corporate value in the last 12 months following an external or internal security incident," says the report.

In Kenya, 50 per cent of chief security officers say their physical security budget will increase significantly over the next 12 months against a global average of 46 per cent and a regional average is 43 per cent. In addition, 78 per cent say their top budget priority over the next 12 months will be directed to risk assessments and threat analysis against a regional average of 60 per cent and the global average is 49 per cent.

Externally, security officers are most concerned about fraud affecting their businesses next year at 41 per cent, which is higher than anywhere else in the World. This is followed by competitor sabotage, copyright infringement and vandalism, all of which are expected to be higher than any other region globally.

"Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world and as companies grow, they are faced with multiple challenges both inside and outside their businesses. Focusing on robust processes and early warning security systems will help with preparedness and the ability to tackle the challenges they face," said Mel Brooks, regional chief executive officer for G4S in Africa and the Middle East.

He adds: "Economic unrest creates security pressures in many forms and leaders will need to be vigilant and innovative in tackling these, through the use of well-designed security programs that combine good situational security intelligence, the right people and security technology."

As a result of the emerging threats, global firms now expect security professionals to have a multitude of skills that they were not expected to have 10 years ago with companies recognising the value of highly skilled and intelligent security professionals protecting their most important assets.

"It is now much more important for a security professional to have technological capabilities and a high level of customer service training. People skills in front-line security professionals are more important than physical attributes of strength for nine out of 10 respondents," says the report.

According to Okelo, Security must be paramount for businesses, "not just because the level of risk they face is unprecedented but so is the impact on business continuity when breaches do occur".

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