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

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.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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