European Chief Security Officers Agree Economic Unrest No.1 Threat

According to the ‘World Security Report’ published by G4S, the largest security-related challenge anticipated by businesses in Europe for the upcoming year is economic unrest. This report is based on a survey conducted among 1,775 Chief Security Officers (CSOs) in 30 countries, representing global companies with a total revenue exceeding $20 trillion.

Within Europe, the survey involved 447 CSOs from eight countries, namely Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The findings reveal that 42% of respondents expect economic unrest to be the most significant security-related hazard, marking a nine-percentage-point increase compared to the previous year.

Among these European countries, the Netherlands is projected to be the most affected, with 49% of respondents expressing this concern, followed by Belgium at 48% and Germany at 44% over the next 12 months. In contrast, CSOs from Estonia reported a lower level of concern, with only 31% ranking economic unrest as a significant security hazard.

Due to the financial uncertainty stemming from economic unrest, security leaders anticipate a rise in the number of threats. Notably, 46% of those surveyed expect economic criminals to be responsible for the majority of security incidents in Europe in the coming year, representing an increase from the 40% reported in the previous 12 months.

Belgium and Denmark are expected to experience a greater impact than other European countries, according to 52% of the respondents in the survey.

G4S LogoStephane Verdoy, Regional CEO of G4S Europe, said, “More than ever before, security leaders will face multiple risks and threats that are caused by geopolitical tensions and economic pressures. 

“Russia’s illegal invasion in Ukraine last year has sent shockwaves of disruption that are  worrying security leaders. The expectation of rising economic unrest and disruption to energy supplies compared to the previous 12 months demonstrates this.

“With every Chief Security Officer’s top priority being the safety and security of their employees, customers, data and assets, it’s encouraging to see that four in 10 anticipate their security budgets will significantly increase.”

Ashley Almanza, executive chairman of G4S, Allied Universal’s international business said, “Global businesses are facing increased security threats; a tight labour market globally; and rapidly changing technology that presents new risks and requires different skills. In addition, executive boards are grappling with balancing physical and cybersecurity alongside other priorities. The World Security Report helps our entire industry and the wider business community better understand and operate in the challenging, global and fast-moving security landscape.”


Additionally, The World Security Report reveals several key findings in European security:


Regarding security threats and incidents, the leaking of sensitive information is predicted to be the foremost internal security concern for the upcoming 12 months, with the European average at 30%, notably 12 percentage points lower than Belgium’s prediction of 42%. In the past year, the most common internal incidents across Europe were fraud and misuse of company resources or data, reported by 30% of respondents. Denmark experienced a higher incidence of internal fraud at 37% compared to other European countries. Looking externally, phishing and social engineering are expected to pose the most significant security threat in the coming year, with a European average of 22%, slightly below the global average of 24%. Additionally, fraud emerged as the primary external threat, impacting 21% of those surveyed in the last year, slightly below the global average of 23%. The Netherlands reported the highest external threat of fraud among European countries at 30%.

In terms of technology and security, Europe exhibits a prevalence of ‘basic’ technology use, second only to the Middle East, with 36% of respondents indicating this level of technological advancement. However, Europe lags behind other regions in the adoption of ‘cutting edge’ and ’emerging’ technologies, with only 31% embracing such technologies. The cost of implementation stands out as the top barrier to technology adoption within European companies, with the regional average at 36%. Estonia faces this challenge more prominently than any other country, with 46%, surpassing the global average of 41%. Furthermore, 35% of respondents believe that Artificial Intelligence will be the primary area of investment over the next five years, with France leading in expectations, as 45% of CSOs based there anticipate significant AI implementation.

Looking at the future of security, hiring the right staff is expected to be a considerable challenge, with 58% reporting it as ‘extremely’ challenging. This challenge is comparatively more pronounced in North America (71%), Latin America (66%), and the Asia Pacific (61%). The main barriers to addressing this challenge include retaining qualified staff (52%), experience (49%), and finding individuals with the appropriate skills (47%). Austria, among other European countries, ranks specific areas of recruitment as ‘extremely challenging’ compared to its counterparts, including the perception of low career progression (78%), retention of qualified and experienced staff, unattractive roles, and appropriate skills, all at 76%.