UK CEOs: cybersecurity a greater risk than economic uncertainty

Yet, most still aren’t prepared for a ransomware attack…

Posted 10 August 2023 by Christine Horton

Half (50 percent) of UK CEOs at large organisations agree that cybersecurity is a greater risk to their organisation than economic uncertainty. 

The study, conducted on behalf of Palo Alto Networks by Censuswide, surveyed a total of 2500 CEOs from the UK, Germany, France, Brazil and the UAE.

But despite the significant growth in the number of cyberattacks, including ransomware, the level of understanding of cybersecurity risks among UK CEOs is slightly lower than their counterparts in other markets. Only 16 percent of UK CEOs surveyed feel they have a complete understanding of the cyber risks facing their organisation, compared to 21 percent in Brazil, 21 percent in the UAE, 22 percent in France, and 39 percent in Germany.

While the number and type of cyberattack continues to increase rapidly, the findings suggest that CEOs feel detached from responsibility for cybersecurity. One in five UK CEOs (21 percent) surveyed say that the CIO is wholly responsible for cybersecurity, while 24 percent acknowledge they are partly responsible but see it as mostly the CIO’s job.

When it comes to being prepared for a cyberattack, more than three-quarters of respondents (78 percent) say they are confident they have complete and tested plans and systems for threat protection and recoverability, and 74 percent say they are confident the organisation is resourced to adapt to changing threats and vulnerabilities. 

However, when asked about their preparedness for a ransomware attack, only 36 percent say they have an agreed plan to work with incident response experts to recover data and systems, with over a third (34 percent) saying that they would pay the ransom to release systems and return the data if hit by a ransomware attack.

UK CEOs surveyed are also among the least confident when it comes to managing cybersecurity risks across their supply chain and other third parties they work with. More CEOs in Germany (39 percent), France (42 percent) and Brazil (45 percent) are very confident in their ability to manage supply chain risks than those in the UK (32 percent).