50% of UK CEOs See Cyber as a Bigger Business Risk than the Economy

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Half of UK CEOs consider cybersecurity as a bigger risk to their organization than economic uncertainty, a new study by Palo Alto Networks has found.

The findings came from a survey of 2500 CEOs from the UK, Germany, France, Brazil and the UAE at large organizations (500+ employees).

Despite the recognition of the business threats posed by cyber-attacks, UK CEOs have a lower level of understanding of cybersecurity risks than their international counterparts, with just 16% saying they have a complete understanding. This compares to 21% in Brazil, 21% in the UAE, 22% in France and 39% in Germany.

Additionally, many UK CEOs feel detached from responsibility for cybersecurity at their organizations. Over one in five (21%) said the company’s CIO is wholly responsible for this area, while 24% saw themselves as partly responsible, but still mostly the CIOs job.

Read more: #HowTo: Make Security a Board Level Discussion

Encouragingly, over three-quarters (78%) of respondents said they are confident that their organization has complete and tested plans and systems for threat protection and recoverability. Additionally, 74% expressed confidence that their business is resourced to adapt to changing threats and vulnerabilities.

However, there was a different story regarding ransomware attacks, with just 36% having an agreed plan to work with incident response experts to recover data and systems. Around a third (34%) admitted that they would pay a ransom demand to release systems and return the data in the event of a ransomware incident.

UK CEOs were one of the least confident in their organization’s ability to manage cybersecurity risks across their third-party supply chain, with just 32% very confident in their ability manage these risks compared to Germany (39%), France (42%) and Brazil (45%).

Gavin Mee, vice president, EMEA West & North at Palo Alto Networks, commented: “This study highlights escalating concern over cyber risks among CEOs and shines a light on the need for increased dialogue and education about cybersecurity at all levels of an organization.”

A Delinea survey published in May 2023 found that just 39% of IT security leaders believe their company’s leadership has a solid grasp on the role of cybersecurity in business success.

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