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Cyber security top CIO concern as Coats re-lists on London Stock Exchange

Matthew Finnegan | Aug. 21, 2015
Coats global CIO says organisation had to beef-up cyber security before company re-listing on London Stock Exchange.


When manufacturing firm Coats floated on the London Stock Exchange this summer - 125 years after the UK firm's first listing - global CIO Richard Cammish had one topic at the front of his mind: security.

"We are now a public company again, therefore our risk profile has increased," says Cammish.

"Cyber security has, over the past few years, become very visible to executives of all companies. It is a fact that internet-based technologies have become more pervasive, and communications are now boundary-less.

"The ability for cyber criminals to target public companies means you clearly need to have a much more robust approach to cyber security."

Coats is one of the world's leading manufacturers of thread used in everything from clothing and footwear - one of its large clients is Adidas - to upholstery and mattresses.

Its operations span 160 sites, 80 countries, 70 factories, all spread across the world - mostly in Asia but also in Europe, the US and Latin America - with a total staff headcount of 22,000, of which 7,000 are regular IT users.

One of the challenges for the firm is managing security controls for its disparate workforce.

Cammish - who reports directly to Coats chief executive and leads security practices - highlights the escalating threat level since the company went private in 2003. This has been exacerbated by global interconnectedness and the rise of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and others.

"If people are on social networks, whether it's personal or corporate, the outcome is the same; you are exposing yourself to seven billion people that live on this planet, and some of those are quiet nasty people," says Cammish.

"They could use you to infections and you could bring those back into your organisation and it could cause business process disruption or it could lead to a breach of security in our finance systems."

A recent analysis of the 2015 CIO 100 revealed that more than half of IT leaders had experienced a cyber intrusion in the past year, with heightened awareness leading to a subsequent increase in security budgets. Although Coats has not fallen victim of a major cyber attack the company has kicked off a multi-year security project to improve network defences across its business and fend-off cyber attacks.

"We have got wall-to-wall virus checking, which is endpoint devices, we have got monitoring of our networks, and we will be putting in other tools as we see fit as part of our three-year cyber security roadmap."

A major part of this strategy has been to deploy network monitoring and web-filtering tools from security startup Zscaler.


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