CEOs view cyber-attacks as the biggest threat to companies over the next 12 months, according to new research from PwC.
In the firm’s annual CEO survey, cyber-risk comes out as the top concern (selected by 49 percent), followed by health risks (48 percent) and macroeconomic volatility (43 percent), including topics like inflation and GDP changes.
Financial services CEOs are the most worried about cyber-incidents affecting their business, while industrial manufacturing and automotive CEOs are the least concerned, despite many attacks targeting this sector, notes PwC.
Cyber-attacks have surged over the last two years, aided by technology adoption across sectors, increased working from home and the ease of spreading misinformation during a pandemic. Corporate systems saw 50 percent more attacks per week in 2021 compared with the previous year, according to data from intelligence firm Check Point Research.
Major incidents last year included the ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline, which led to the oil pipeline being shut down. The company paid the ransomware attackers $4.4 mn in Bitcoin to restore its systems, with the US Department of Justice later recovering the majority of the money.
When asked by PwC how cyber-risk could impact their business in 2022, 62 percent say it could affect their ability to sell products and services, while 56 percent say it could damage innovation through technology or processes. But only 19 percent say cyber-risk can negatively affect their access to capital.
‘CEOs do not appear especially concerned about whether most of the threats analyzed will inhibit their ability to raise capital,’ write the report authors.
The PwC research also finds general CEO optimism has remained high despite the risks facing the global economy, from a slowdown in growth to monetary tightening and geopolitical tensions.
‘When we surveyed chief executives in October and November 2021, 77 percent said they expect global economic growth to improve during the year ahead, an uptick of 1 percentage point from our previous survey (conducted in January and February 2021) and the highest figure on record since 2012, when we began asking CEOs how they felt about the economy’s potential,’ explains the report.