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“Not enough time” for business leaders to focus on cyber risk management

by Brian Sims

Amid a wider range of issues to handle, a majority of Board members and senior executives responsible for their organisation’s cyber risk management had less than a day in the last year to spend focused on cyber risk issues. The findings form part of a new report published by Marsh, the insurance broker and risk advisor, and Microsoft Corporation, the “platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world”.

This lack of time for senior leaders to focus on cyber risk comes as concern over cyber threats hits an all-time high, and also as confidence in an organisation’s ability to manage cyber threats has declined, the 2019 Marsh-Microsoft Global Cyber Risk Perception Survey has found. The survey of 1,500 organisations details the current state of cyber risk perceptions and risk management, building on a related study conducted back in 2017.

According to this year’s survey, nearly 80% of organisations now rank cyber risk as a Top Five concern compared to 62% in 2017. Only 11%, however, expressed a high degree of confidence in their ability to assess cyber threats, prevent cyber attacks and respond effectively. This is down from 19% in 2017.

For many organisations, strategic cyber risk management remains a challenge. For example, while nearly two-thirds (65%) of organisations surveyed identified a senior executive or the Board as a main owner of cyber risk management, only 17% of C-Suite executives and Board members said they spent more than a few days in the past year focusing on the issue. More than half (ie 51%) spent several hours or less.

Likewise, 88% of respondents identified their IT and information security functions as primary owners of cyber risk management, yet 30% of IT respondents said they had spent only a few days or less over the last year focusing on cyber risk.

Embracing new technologies

At the same time, organisations continue to embrace new technologies, but are uncertain about the risks they bring. Three-quarters (77%) of respondents said they’re adopting (or have already adopted) cloud computing, robotics or Artificial Intelligence, yet only 36% say they evaluate cyber risk both before and after adoption. According to the survey, 11% don’t evaluate the risk at all.

“We’re well into the age of cyber risk awareness, yet too many organisations still struggle with creating a strong cyber security culture with appropriate levels for governance, prioritisation, management focus and ownership,” said Kevin Richards, global head of cyber risk consulting at Marsh. “This places them at a disadvantage both in building cyber resilience and in confronting the increasing complex cyber landscape.”

Joram Borenstein, general manager for the Cyber Security Solutions Group at Microsoft, added: “In the era of transformational technology and more interconnected supply chains, the cyber risk management practices and mindsets of yesterday no longer suffice and may actually inhibit innovation. It’s incumbent upon senior leaders to focus on these issues for the welfare of their organisations, their customers, their employees and beyond.”

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