Maximum security

Ray Stanton, the global head of BT's security division, talks about how an unpredictable business environment is prompting the need for greater security.

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By  Melissa Hancock Published  May 26, 2007

Today attacks on a business can happen at any time and from any place. "What organisations have to remember is that while they might not operate globally, they're still accessible globally. The days are long gone when a thief would walk in and pull a gun on you," says Ray Stanton, global head of Business Continuity Security and Governance practice (BCSG) at communications giant BT.

That the nature of the criminal has changed can be explained by the fact that we are now living in an internet age. Consequently in recent years major fraud has become synonymous with computer crime. As global head, Stanton oversees all of BT's BCSG operations. He stresses that the Middle East is a target region.

"We cannot be a global company and not be in the Middle East." That there is a heightened need for BCSG in the region is always the case when there is a rapid growth of the economy, but the need is heightened further by "the astronomical growth of the financial sector.

I talk with CIO’s who say ‘Ray, we need to shave milliseconds off transaction times between systems on our trading floor’ and they can tell you that those milliseconds are worth hundreds of millions to them. Just think of that Asia-Pacific bank that lost all those hours — what was it worth to them?

"Organised crime recognises that it is very difficult to monitor everything when there's accelerated growth of organisations." Stanton adds that because of the faster rate of growth, the region's position on the BCSG maturity curve also needs to be accelerated. "There are some global and international organisations that are already here and have a lot of experience in dealing with business continuity, security and governance. However, there are many organisations who don't. This is where BT's BCSG capacity will be invaluable to the region in acting as an advisory board.

"We want to bring knowledge and expertise into the region to help educate businesses here. The region has a great opportunity. It wants to grow and it wants to be a global player, but it's not to repeat the mistakes of other organisations in other countries," he warns.

In order to ensure that these ‘mistakes' aren't repeated, Stanton believes that practicing business security needs to be a collaborative effort and that large companies have a duty of care to support their smaller counterparts. "Larger companies have greater resources at hand to address the risks," explains Stanton. "Just like BT are working with the British Department of Trade and Industry to educate SME markets - we should see similar things happening in the region. For example, the Central Bank should be educating the smaller banks. All the M&A activity that is going on here is just massive and they particularly target organisations that are going through M&A."

As Stanton goes on to explain: "Security has never been more important as organisations, supply chains and customers become welded together in the digital networked economy." In terms of acting as an advisory body, Stanton explains that it gives BT the ability to have the "right conversation" with people so that they can make an informed and cognisant business decision. "A really good example is they've just determined that there's a fault line 120km from the UAE. How many companies here have really good business continuity plans in place?"

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