Cyber insecurity worries CEOs

22/11/2023
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Accenture's recent 'Cyber-Resilient CEO' report exposes a surprising reality: despite almost all CEOs of large, international companies (96%) recognising the importance of cyber insecurity, 74% are concerned about their ability to successfully counter cyber threats. These figures indicate a significant gap between awareness of the importance of cybersecurity and confidence in their own defence mechanisms against these threats.

Nicole van Det, CEO of Accenture Netherlands commented, "Our research points to a significant gap: companies recognise the importance of cybersecurity, but still struggle to integrate it effectively into their operational strategies. With the rise of generative AI, securing data and digital assets is becoming increasingly urgent. Yet cybersecurity is often only prioritised at board level after a serious incident. An integrated approach to cybersecurity risks within corporate risk management is essential for regulatory compliance, protecting the business and maintaining customer trust."

A recent incident at a leading logistics company underlines this urgency. As a result of a cyber attack, the company experienced significant financial damage, including a 20% drop in revenue and a direct loss of $300 million, illustrating the consequences of inadequate cybersecurity measures.

Cyber-awareness vs strategic action

The 'Cyber-Resilient CEO' survey reveals some worrying trends in cyber insecurity. Many CEOs admit that their approach to cybersecurity is reactive rather than proactive, which increases the risk of attacks and the cost of remediation. A noteworthy finding is that 60% of CEOs admit that their organisations do not integrate cybersecurity into their business strategies, while 44% indicate that cybersecurity receives only sporadic attention. Although 90% of CEOs recognise the importance of cybersecurity in maintaining customer trust, only 15% regularly devote time to it during meetings, indicating a discrepancy between insight and action.

The report highlights the growing risks of generative AI, with 64% of CEOs concerned about its use by cybercriminals in complex attacks. This underlines the urgency for companies to review and strengthen their cybersecurity strategies. Interestingly, more than half of CEOs (54%) rate the cost of implementing cybersecurity higher than the potential financial impact of a cyber attack.

Cyber resilience as a differentiator

A small percentage of CEOs surveyed (5%) distinguish themselves by considering cybersecurity an essential part of their business strategy. These 'cyber-resilient CEOs' are at the helm of organisations that respond more effectively to cyber threats and suffer less financial damage in security incidents, leading to better financial performance.

"The report is a wake-up call for CEOs worldwide. The figures show how important a proactive cyber security strategy is," said Tim Reijnders, Security Lead at Accenture Netherlands. Focus not only on technological solutions, but also on awareness and sustained attention at board level. By integrating cybersecurity into the core of their business strategy, organisations can not only reduce their risks, but also improve their business results."

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