Geopolitical Intelligence

What is Geopolitical Intelligence?

Geopolitical intelligence is curated information that helps enterprises understand and manage location-based threats to their organizations. 

Geopolitical intelligence is vital for organizations who operate on a global scale, offering timely and contextually relevant insights into global threats, including political strife, public health issues, terror risks, refugee displacement, and more in locations where the business operates or holds assets. 

Geopolitical intelligence empowers organizations to proactively anticipate, rapidly respond to, and effectively mitigate location-based threats to physical assets, personnel, and sensitive data.

Why is Geopolitical Intelligence Important?

Geopolitical intelligence is a significant benefit for organizations with operations, assets, and employees distributed around the world. 

To ensure business continuity, these organizations must constantly adapt their operations and business practices to changing political, economic, trade, environmental, legal, and public health conditions in the jurisdictions where they operate. In times of political unrest or environmental disasters, they must respond decisively to protect enterprise assets, including physical property, data assets, and personnel.

Geopolitical intelligence keeps enterprise security and incident response teams apprised of new developments in domestic, foreign, and global environmental affairs that have the potential to impact enterprise personnel or assets around the world.

Five Geopolitical Factors that Impact Risk

Political

Changes in government can lead to drastic policy shifts that significantly impact business operations. Changes to local labor laws, trade policy, data sovereignty regulations, and taxation can increase the cost of doing business, as can corrupt government officials that solicit bribes from foreign business entities.

Elections may also trigger civil unrest or politically-motivated violence that poses a threat to enterprise assets and personnel. 

Economic

Changes in local economic conditions can create social and political instability that poses a risk to enterprise assets and personnel. For example, a country experiencing economic recession and high unemployment might also see higher incidence rates of property crimes that threaten enterprise assets.

Economic risks can also impact the value of foreign currencies held by international businesses. Unexpected exchange rate swings, high interest rates, and government default (sovereign risk) all have the potential to deteriorate the value of foreign currency.

Societal 

Social factors such as shifting demographics, aging populations, changing cultural norms, migration, public activism (e.g. boycotts or protests), and public health all have the potential to disrupt enterprise operations and pose a risk to assets and staff. 

Legal and regulatory changes are among the greatest sources of geopolitical risk to businesses.

Organizations are required to follow the applicable laws and regulations in every jurisdiction where they operate. Changes to data security, privacy and sovereignty laws, corporate taxation laws, copyright and patent laws, antitrust legislation, and consumer protection laws all have the potential to disrupt operations or create new liabilities for businesses who don’t respond appropriately.

Digital 

Nation-state cyber programs are at the intersection between geopolitical risk and digital risk. Both developed (e.g. China, Russia, and the United States) and developing (e.g. Malaysia, Vietnam, and Turkey) nations have invested in cyber security and digital espionage capabilities, in hopes of stealing secrets from foreign entities while preserving their own. 

Employees working remotely in foreign countries may find themselves targeted by cyber espionage or geo-targeted malware attacks.

Geopolitical intelligence can help enterprises understand the motivations and capabilities of state-funded cyber programs in the regions where they host sensitive data and other business infrastructure.

5 Location-Based Risks to Track with Geopolitical Intelligence

Risks to People and Physical Assets

Social and political unrest, government upheaval, economic instability, and many other types of geopolitical events can increase physical risks to people and physical assets. When these elevated risks are present, accurate and timely geopolitical intelligence helps enterprises stay informed and make critical decisions to protect their interests.

Changing Data Privacy and Sovereignty Regulations

Changing laws and regulations surrounding the privacy and storage location of data assets have the potential to disrupt enterprise activities. Over the past decade, the number of countries with active data protection legislation has grown to more than 120. Geopolitical intelligence helps enterprise organizations stay informed about new legal changes taking effect in the countries where they do business.

Operational Risks

Geopolitical events have the impact to cause a major disruption to normal business operations, and the global COVID-19 pandemic was a great example. 

Each country responded to the pandemic differently, creating a unique landscape of regulations, mandates, and emergency orders that affected businesses differently in each jurisdiction. Some businesses were unaffected or even benefitted, while others faced major supply chain disruptions or were forced to cease operations.

Geopolitical intelligence helps enterprises anticipate and respond to operational risks that could affect their ability to conduct business in specific regions or countries of the world.

Cyber Espionage Attacks

State-funded cyber programs frequently engage in espionage or surveillance attacks, attempting to steal sensitive data and financial resources or hijack application source code from their targets. 

Geopolitical intelligence can reveal information about the identity, motivations, and tactics of the cyber espionage teams behind these attacks, giving enterprises the context and insights they need to successfully mitigate them, or avoid falling victim.

Geo-targeted Malware Attacks

Digital threat actors are increasingly targeting malware attacks at users in specific locations, often using IP look-ups, email country codes, or other indicators to distinguish their intended victims. Geo-targeted attacks make sense when cyber criminals are targeting residents of a specific country or who bank at a specific financial institution.

Geopolitical intelligence keeps enterprises up-to-date on geo-targeted malware threats that could be targeting their industry or other organizations in the countries where they operate.

Gain Insight into Global Business Risks with ZeroFox Geopolitical Intelligence

ZeroFox provides enterprises protection, intelligence, and disruption to identify and dismantle external threats to brands, people, assets, and data.

Our managed threat intelligence service delivers strategic finished intelligence, with contextually relevant and actionable information on emerging global, industry, and geopolitical threats. Geopolitical intelligence helps our enterprise clients maintain situational awareness and make strategic decisions to prevent and mitigate location-based risks.

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