World Monitor Mag, Industrial Overview WM_November_2018_WEB_Version - Page 83

additional content struggle to identify them. Given limited resources, businesses prepare and governments regulate for the risks that they can see. But those are often not the right ones to focus on. Call them black swan events, surprises, blind spots, or asymmetric threats. The challenge for organizations is to find a strategic way to mitigate these often lethal, always unpredictable risks without “boiling the ocean” with multiple analyses, wasting their money trying to prevent a wide variety of potential crises, or having multiple departments develop separate crisis-prevention functions. Even though the precise time, place, form, and effects of these events can’t be foreseen, such events can be better prepared for. This requires a fundamental mind shift from a focus on battling specific threats to a threat- agnostic approach. When you take this approach, you focus on what might be called meta-readiness: preparing your own innate ability to handle any type of crisis that emerges. You develop the ability to judge when a crisis is imminent; to respond to it swiftly and effectively; to receive and send critical information at the speed of business relevance; and to take whatever actions are required in the moment — with flexibility and the kind of organizational muscle memory that comes from multiple rehearsals. In short, you build up your capabilities to manage the chaos that follows any large-scale upheaval. There are at least four broad classes of asymmetric threats: • Unprotectedinfrastructure • Vulnerabletechnology • Underestimateddisasters • Innovativegeopoliticalattacks Each of these threat ecosystems has its own way of surprising people. Each can be spurred, through a combination of factors, to spin off a sudden tornado- like disaster. The best stance is to recognize their dynamics, and then look closely at your company’s missing capabilities, and the critical path for closing that gap. 1. Unprotected infrastructure. A natural disaster, a terrorist attack, or simply a prolonged deterioration can diminish the continued operation and efficiency of embedded large- scale infrastructure — including public systems for transportation and power, or private systems such as commercial ports and financial exchanges. Also vulnerable are many of the legal measures and regulations put in place to protect these infrastructures. These systems, upon which society depends, have been shown to be vulnerable to such a complex combination of factors that organizations and governments Consider the artery of a nation: the U.S. power grid — a highly complex, highly decentralized enterprise that is vulnerable to attack. More than 3,300 utilities deliver power from natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, and other power plants through 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines; more than 5 million miles of distribution lines bring power to hundreds of millions of U.S. homes and businesses. A structural breakdown or a coordinated attack — which, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Russian cyber actors may already be positioned to accomplish — could cause power losses across large portions of the United States lasting from hours to weeks. In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria left residents without power for as long as 10 months. Weather-related outages, coupled with aging infrastructure, are estimated to have cost the U.S. economy an inflation- adjusted annual amount ranging between $18 billion and $33 billion between 2003 and 2012. Beyond the substantial direct economic costs of a large-scale failure in the grid, the damage could cascade to other critical nodes of a region’s infrastructure. Without easy access to electric power, nearly everything would sooner or later be disrupted: banking, the Internet, the stock market, the water supply, the food supply, sewage, roads, hospitals, military operations, fuel, and air traffic control. The catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010, for example, damaged roads and buildings essential for escape and recovery, supported by EUROBAK 81