Strikes, activism, civil unrest test business resilience

Even well-established industries in stable democracies must be prepared for the possible impact of increasingly disruptive and potentially violent activism. This is the message from risk advisory, CHC Global, whose latest annual Malicious Risk Report highlights the growing risks from grassroot movements, strikes and civil commotion – which look set to disrupt organisational resilience for months, if not years, to come.

Businesses are already witnessing, either directly or indirectly, the impact of protest movements and civil unrest on their operations, a trend that is forecast to grow throughout this year.

Traditionally resilient states are not immune to instability, either, the report notes. In the UK alone, there have been at least 70 instances of strike action since June 2022, causing disruption over multiple days, with yet more disruption in store for this month and next.

Activist groups including Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil have blocked roads, dug and occupied tunnels and glued themselves to vehicles and buildings as acts of civil unrest to cause disruption that affects industry broadly.

Chris Holt, MBE, chief executive of CHC Global commented: “By having a clearer understanding of the risks to an organisation from malicious perpetrators, risk managers and CEOs can start to consider how these might have far-reaching consequences for their organisation. These risks are not just financial but can also impact operations, reputations, supply chains and operatives who work in or close to high-risk areas."

Malicious risk forecast (Source CHC Global)

Other significant areas of malicious risk identified by CHC Global around the world include:

Strategic competition: In a world of increasing economic integration, the destabilisation of certain regions caused by the competition between powerful states can have far-reaching consequences. The conflict in Ukraine has already shown how concentrated military aggression by a regional power can impact economies globally, with fallout from global sanctions as well as increased competition for natural resources. Increasing tensions in the South China Sea also have the potential to significantly destabilise global supply chains and economic stability, as well as cause civil and political unrest.

Expansion of non-state armed group activity: The threat from Islamic State and al-Qaeda remains high, with dominant centres of activity continuing to develop in vulnerable African states. In turn, this triggers further economic and geo political insecurity and provides additional opportunities for criminal activity. The expansion of Mexican cartel influence over neighbouring states, such as Guatemala, is likewise driving wider regional instability across Central America.

Exploitation of available technology:
The boundaries between many threats are blurring, driven significantly by the exploitation of technology. The number and scale of cyber-attacks on governments and commercial organisation in the last year are noteworthy, with an increased level of activity related to the Russia/Ukraine conflict. Alongside governments, malicious cyber activity also targeted infrastructure and high-profile commercial entities in countries in North America, Europe, and East Asia. Moreover, technology is increasingly being exploited for the development of homemade weapons, such as improvised drones and 3D-printed firearms.

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Deborah Ritchie speaks to Chief Inspector Tracy Mortimer of the Specialist Operations Planning Unit in Greater Manchester Police's Civil Contingencies and Resilience Unit; Inspector Darren Spurgeon, AtHoc lead at Greater Manchester Police; and Chris Ullah, Solutions Expert at BlackBerry AtHoc, and himself a former Police Superintendent. For more information click here

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