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Still No. 1: Survey Says Cybersecurity Remains Top Concern for Risk Managers

For three years running, cybersecurity has remained the top threat to businesses across multiple categories, including infrastructure, geopolitical and emerging risks. That’s according to the 11th Annual Survey of Emerging Risks, conducted by the Casualty Actuarial Society, Canadian Institute of Actuaries, and the Society of Actuaries' Joint Risk Management Section.

More than 200 risk managers, primarily based in North America, participated in the anonymous online survey, which revealed a key finding: Cyber continues to be a top current and emerging concern for 53% of respondents, followed by terrorism and technology.

Technology, the number three on the respondent’s top five list, saw a 3% increase in 2017. As innovation continues to change the threat landscape, technology risks continue to move up the rankings.

Cybersecurity in the interconnectedness of infrastructure ranked the number one emerging risk, while financial volatility fell out of the list of top five concerns. Cybersecurity risks around connected infrastructure have ranked as the top emerging risk since 2014, with financial volatility ranking second place, but for the first time the emerging threat of terrorism ranked second, knocking financial volatility out of the top five.

The survey also revealed that 42% of risk managers project good or strong global economic expectations for 2018, which is the highest ever recorded for this survey. Still, risks associated with natural disasters doubled in the aftermath of a tumultuous hurricane season and a heated political arena in the US.

Additionally, the category of geopolitical risks related to weapons of mass destruction, regional instability, and transnational crime and corruption ranked higher in 2017 than in years prior. The survey authors speculated that these results might have been impacted by the US election cycle.

The sentiment around cybersecurity risk is widespread, as evidenced in other reports released earlier this year. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2018, released in January, placed cyber-attacks and massive data fraud among the year’s top five risks. In February, Microsoft's By the Numbers: Global Cyber Risk Perception Survey revealed that 56% of the more than 1,300 respondents said they would rank cyber risks as a top-five concern.

Each report reveals a growing consensus among risk managers that with a cyber-attack comes the risk of business interruption and damage to brand or reputation along with the potential of a data breach. 

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