The enemy of innovation: cyber attacks and IP theft

Technology facilitates rapid growth in emerging markets, but it is also a double-edged sword that enables cyber attacks and threatens innovation.

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Technological innovation enables huge possibilities for business growth in emerging markets, allowing organizations to satisfy new and underserved consumer demand. However, as technology proliferates and more people connect to the internet, cyber attacks and IP theft become ever-greater risks.

Threat to innovation

Cybersecurity is a growing threat that poses difficulties for all organizations, particularly those reliant on technological innovation. In emerging markets, the ability for organizations to satisfy consumer needs and grow is often hindered by poor infrastructure and patchy compliance.

Innovative digital technologies provide the tools to overcome these barriers and create faster growth. However, the sustainability of innovation is jeopardized by the ever-growing cyber threat.

A very real threat

Nearly two-thirds of CFOs in emerging markets believe that managing cybersecurity is a high or very high priority — and the majority of these organizations have been victims of hacking or online malice.

Cyber attacks threaten organizations’ ability to protect propriety technology, service clients, secure customer data and develop brand value. Without a rigorous cybersecurity framework in place, this threat to emerging market players is a very real one.

Detection is key

The potential damage from cyber attacks is compounded by the fact that many companies are focused on protection and underinvesting in detection and response. The mean time to identify a criminal cyber attack is 229 days, while the mean time for breach containment is 82 days.

Attackers can wreak a huge amount of damage in that time, much of which is often very subtle and particularly difficult to detect — 36% of organizations believe they would be unlikely to detect a sophisticated attack. This detection shortfall allows attackers to steal R&D and IP secrets, and severely undermine market positions and growth prospects that are founded on innovation.

The longer it takes to detect a theft, the greater the potential loss of sales and diminished competitive edge becomes. Completely failing to detect a breach could mean a competitor launches products uncannily similar to your own before you do, thereby seizing the first mover advantage and capturing the market. Invest in detection before it is too late.

Managing risk

All organizations will inevitably suffer cyber incidents — it is unavoidable in the digital era. Given this reality, how can organizations protect themselves alongside their R&D and IP against cyber attacks? Here are some recommendations that could help mitigate a potential threat and protect assets.

  1. Know your critical information assets — identify which assets are most vulnerable to cyber attack
  2. Make cyber risk more tangible — clearly define cyber risk and underlying metrics
  3. Align with existing risk frameworks – for example, financial, operational, regulatory, customer and reputation
  4. Make cyber risk relevant to the organization — link organizational-level risks to individual business units and their information assets
  5. Embed risk appetite in investment decisions — prioritize investment in critical areas and empower businesses to make informed local decisions

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