Business Leaders Are Not Focused on Cyber-Risk Issues

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September 19, 2019

An office with a computer monitor on white desk with chains around it and locks attached to the chains on the front and back

A new Marsh report found that a majority of board members and senior executives responsible for their organizations' cyber-risk management had less than a day in the last year to spend focused on cyber-risk issues.

The 2019 Marsh Microsoft Global Cyber Risk Perception Survey found this lack of time for senior leaders to focus on cyber risk comes as concern over cyber threats hits an all-time high as confidence in an organization's ability to manage cyber threats has declined.

According to this year's survey of 1,500 organizations, nearly 80 percent now rank cyber risk as a top-five concern, compared to 62 percent in 2017. Only 11 percent, 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 percent in 2017.   

For many organizations, strategic cyber-risk management remains a challenge. For example, while nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of organizations surveyed identified a senior executive or the board as a main owner of cyber-risk management, only 17 percent 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, 51 percent, spent several hours or less.

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

At the same time, organizations continue to embrace new technologies but are uncertain about the risks they bring. Three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents said they are adopting or have adopted cloud computing, robotics, or artificial intelligence, yet only 36 percent say they evaluate cyber risk both before and after adoption; 11 percent don't evaluate the risk at all.

"We are well into the age of cyber-risk awareness, yet too many organizations still struggle with creating a strong cyber-security culture with appropriate levels for governance, prioritization, management focus, and ownership," said Kevin Richards, global head of cyber risk consulting, Marsh. "This places them at a disadvantage both in building cyber resilience and in confronting the increasingly complex cyber landscape."  

"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," said Joram Borenstein, general manager, cyber-security solutions group at Microsoft. "It is incumbent upon senior leaders to focus on these issues for the welfare of their organizations, their customers, their employees, and beyond."

September 19, 2019