There is a serious and sustained threat of terrorist attacks against the UK, including the business community, but staff safety still comes second to protecting IT infrastructures, according to research.
In a rare public appearance, Eliza Manningham-Buller, director general of MI5, told delegates that they must not become complacent about security issues even though the UK has seen no terrorist attacks in the wake of September 11.
"The narrow definition of corporate security, including the threats of crime and fraud, should be widened to include terrorism and the threat of electronic attack," she said.
However, IT concerns are the greatest security issue among senior executives, according to CBI research. Almost all business leaders (95 per cent) cited IT as the number one security worry, with nine out of 10 UK bosses claiming they are concerned about security risks to their staff.
The CBI/QinetiQ Business Security Survey of 100 chairmen, chief executives and senior level directors also found that 95 per cent of business leaders felt having a security plan in place helped to reassure staff. However, only a quarter said having such a plan was a 'great benefit' to the recruitment and retention of staff.
Manningham-Buller said that a "simple, but effective, business continuity plan that is regularly used and tested" would be most helpful to a business seeking to protect itself against security threats.
"This is one of the areas in which the private sector, rather than the public sector, sets best example, from which the Government and others can learn. But do you all have such plans and have you considered them at board level?" she asked.