UK CEOs rate cyber risks as second most significant threat

Cyber threat concern ranks higher than new market entrants or speed of technological change, new research reveals.

As world leaders gathered in Davos last week, cyber risks again featured high on the agenda. PwC’s CEO Survey reveals that three-quarters (76 per cent) of UK CEOs consider cyber risks to be a significant business threat. This is second only to the availability of key skills, and ahead of changing consumer behaviour, the speed of technological change and new market entrants.

The findings – based on a research sample of 1,379 global leaders, including 126 UK CEOs – show that UK leaders are significantly more concerned about cyber threats than many of their global peers (UK 76 per cent; global 61 per cent) who don’t consider it amongst the top three business threats.

Nearly all CEOs in the UK (97 per cent) say their organisation is currently addressing cyber breaches affecting business information or critical systems, well above the global average figure of 90 per cent.

Richard Horne, UK cyber security partner at PwC says, ‘The majority of boards now recognise that cyber security is a complex risk that requires their attention. However, most struggle to move beyond building ‘standard’ cyber security control frameworks in the hope they are sufficient, to genuinely managing risk.

‘The most successful leaders will be those who define a comprehensive board approach to governing cyber security. It’s key to recognise that requires changing their businesses and operations to make themselves more securable, as well as building security controls.

‘In response to our engagements with boards across various sectors, we’ve created a set of principles for the governance of cyber security to help them improve their response to this existential business risk.’

Now is the time to take cyber security governance seriously

PwC has released seven principles for boards to adopt to assist both themselves and investors around the governance of cyber security:

Have a real understanding of exposure;
Have appropriate capability and resource dedicated to cyber security;
Adopt a holistic framework and approach, including meaningful measurement;
Submit to independent review and test;
Have sufficient incident preparedness and a track record of identifying, responding to, and learning from, incidents;
Have a considered approach to legal and regulatory environments for cyber security;
Make an active community contribution, sharing information with others in the industry.

Horne concludes, ‘These principles will help organisations to challenge themselves as to whether their response to cyber threats is adequate and continuing to evolve with threat developments.

‘We’re also seeing investors becoming increasingly focussed on cyber security when making investment decisions. The principles are therefore designed to not only to aid board governance, but also frame the discussions around cyber security between boards and current or potential investors.’

Further reading on cyber risks

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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