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PwC Survey: “UK CEOs rate cyber risks as second most significant business threat”

by Brian Sims

PwC’s latest CEO Survey reveals that three-quarters (76%) of UK CEOs consider cyber risks to be a significant business threat. Indeed, cyber risk is ranked second only to the availability of key skills, and ahead of changing consumer behaviour, the speed of technological change and new market entrants.

The study findings – which are based on a significant research sample of 1,379 global leaders, among them 126 UK CEOs – show that UK leaders are significantly more concerned about cyber threats than many of their global peers (UK: 76% versus Global: 61%) who don’t consider it to be among the top three business threats.

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

Richard Horne, UK cyber security partner at PwC, told Risk UK: “The majority of Boards now recognise that cyber security is a complex risk requiring their attention. However, most struggle to move beyond building ‘standard’ cyber security control frameworks in the hope that they’re sufficient for genuinely managing risk.”

Horne continued: “The most successful leaders will be those who define a comprehensive Board approach towards governing cyber security. It’s key to recognise that this 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.”

Taking cyber security governance seriously

PwC has issued Governing Cyber Security Risk to encourage Boards of Directors to assist both themselves and investors on the subject of cyber security governance. There are seven key points to note:

(1) Harbour a real understanding of exposure

(2) Ensure that appropriate capability and resource is dedicated to cyber security

(3) Adopt an holistic framework and approach (including meaningful measurement)

(4) Submit to independent review and tests

(5) Have sufficient incident preparedness in place and a track record of identifying, responding to and learning from cyber incidents

(6) Adopt a considered approach towards legal and regulatory environments for cyber security

(7) Make an active community contribution, sharing information with others in the industry

Horne concluded: “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 focused on cyber security when making their investment decisions. The principles we’ve outlined are not only designed to aid Board governance, but also to assist in framing the discussions around cyber security between Boards and current or potential investors.”

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