Cybersecurity now high on the risk list for global companies: survey

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 May, 2015, 7:35am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 May, 2015, 12:51pm

Concerns over cybersecurity and hacking have become a top 10 risk for businesses, according to an annual survey of global companies and managers.

The 2015 Global Risk Management Survey, released this week by risk management and insurance firm Aon, queried more than 1,400 respondents at public and private companies around the world, with cyber risk emerging as a major concern for the first time, along with damage to brand and reputation.

"The connection between these two risks has been felt around the world in 2014, as a rash of data breaches demonstrated the fragile nature of consumer trust in leading corporations," said Greg Case, president and chief executive of Aon.

"Damage to reputation/brand" was ranked the most formidable risk faced by respondents' companies, ahead of "economic slowdown/slow recovery" or "regulatory/legislative changes". Concerns about "computer crime/hacking" were also prevalent.

"The high profile cyber attacks in the news only represent the tip of the iceberg," the report said.

"Every company that has a website or smart phones has global exposure to such risks."

Respondents' concerns are not without reason. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the number of detected cyber attacks rose 48 per cent in 2014, compared to the year before. This rise is expected to continue in 2015, with more than 100,000 attacks taking place every day.

The Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank, estimates that the annual cost of cyber crime and economic espionage to the world economy could be as high as US$445 billion, or one per cent of global income.

Last month, US president Barack Obama signed an executive order declaring a national emergency due to the threat posed by cyber attacks.

The order empowered the US Treasury to use financial sanctions against foreign actors who threaten critical infrastructure, seek to steal financial data or trade secrets, or launch denial-of-service attacks.

Obama said that he found "the increasing prevalence and severity of malicious cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States."