By: 20 September 2019
Business leaders spend little time on cyber risks, find Marsh and Microsoft

A majority of board members and senior executives responsible for their organisation’s cyber risk management had less than a day in the last year to spend on cyber risk issues, according to a new survey from Marsh and Microsoft.

This lack of time for senior leaders to focus on cyber risk comes as concern over threats hits an all-time high, and as confidence in an organisation’s ability to manage cyber threats has declined, the 2019 Marsh Microsoft Global Cyber Risk Perception Survey found.

Marsh and Microsoft surveyed 1,500 organisations from around the world on the current state of cyber risk perceptions and risk management, building on a related survey conducted in 2017.

The new survey from Marsh and Microsoft found that nearly 80% of organisations now rank cyber risk as a top-five concern, up from 62% in 2017.

But only 11% expressed a high degree of confidence in their ability to assess cyber threats, prevent attacks and respond effectively. This is down from 19% in 2017.

For many organisations, strategic cyber risk management remains a challenge. While nearly two-thirds (65%) of those surveyed identified a senior executive or the board as a main owner of cyber risk management, only 17% 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%, spent several hours or less.

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

At the same time, organisations continue to embrace new technologies but are uncertain about the risks they bring, according to Marsh and Microsoft’s survey.

Three-quarters (77%) of respondents said they are adopting or have adopted cloud computing, robotics or artificial intelligence, yet only 36% say they evaluate cyber risk both before and after adoption; 11% don’t evaluate the risk at all.

Kevin Richards, global head of cyber risk consulting at Marsh, commented: “We are well into the age of cyber risk awareness, yet too many organisations still struggle with creating a strong cyber security culture with appropriate levels for governance, prioritisation, management focus, and ownership.”

“This places them at a disadvantage both in building cyber resilience and in confronting the increasing complex cyber landscape.”

Joram Borenstein, general manager of the cyber security solutions group at Microsoft, added: “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.”

“It is incumbent upon senior leaders to focus on these issues for the welfare of their organisations, their customers, their employees, and beyond.”