UK companies remain vulnerable to cyber attack despite CEOs ranking cyber as top threat for businesses

PwC’s Cyber Security practice has warned that UK companies and institutions remain vulnerable to cyber attacks despite many CEOs now ranking cyber as one of the top threats to their business going forward.

PwC’s cyber security partner Richard Horne was commenting on the firm’s 19th Annual Global CEO Survey, released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which finds that almost three-quarters (74%) of chief executive officers in the UK rate cyber security as the third biggest risk to their company after regulation and geopolitical uncertainty.

However, despite the apparently changing attitudes of CEOs, Horne believes that more must be done by Boards of Directors to protect company data and systems.

“There appears to be a disconnect between concerns at the top of businesses and the speed and consistency with which security measures can be implemented within organisations,” stressed Horne. “This vulnerability to attacks becomes more stark when we take into account the speed of technological change and how organisations’ new digital initiatives present greater potential for attackers, arming them with both new tools and a wider range of targets.”

The PwC survey shows that UK business leaders are more alert to the threat of cyber attacks than most of their global counterparts (the global average being 61%). CEOs in the US are most concerned, though, with 88% citing cyber as a threat to their organisation’s growth.

Cyber risks can no longer be ignored

Commenting on the survey findings, Ian Powell (chairman and senior partner of PwC UK) stated: “UK business leaders see threats to their business coming from new and more complex sources. Cyber security has rapidly risen up the CEOs’ list of concerns. Clearly, businesses cannot afford to ignore cyber risks any longer.”

Horne added that, while it’s pleasing to see awareness of cyber attacks is somewhat higher in the UK, leaders need to have a greater understanding of what would make their organisation more secure.

“Cyber security is becoming as much about ensuring the way in which technology’s used is ‘securable’ in the first place,” urged Horne, “and that’s really all about changing how businesses work and how people think.”

*PwC’s 19th Annual Global CEO Survey was conducted during the last quarter of 2015, with 1,409 CEO respondents from 83 countries involved. The full survey findings and commentary can be downloaded at: www.pwc.co.uk/ceosurvey

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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