Marsh Survey Finds That Execs Have Just One Day a Year to Focus on Cyber Risks

Amid a wider range of issues to handle, 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 focused on cyber risk issues. The findings form part of a new report published today by Marsh, the world’s leading insurance broker and risk adviser, and Microsoft Corp., the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world.

This lack of time for senior leaders to focus on cyber risk comes as concern over cyber 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. The global survey of 1,500 organisations details the current state of cyber risk perceptions and risk management, building on a related survey conducted in 2017.

According to this year’s survey, nearly 80% of organisations now rank cyber risk as a top-five concern, compared to 62% in 2017. Only 11%, however, expressed a high degree of confidence in their ability to assess cyber threats, prevent cyber-attacks, and respond effectively. This is down from 19% in 2017.

For many organisations, strategic cyber risk management remains a challenge. For example, while nearly two-thirds (65%) of organisations 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. 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.

“We are well into the age of cyber risk awareness, yet too many organisations still struggle with creating a strong cybersecurity culture with appropriate levels for governance, prioritisation, management focus, and ownership,” said Kevin Richards, Global Head of Cyber Risk Consulting, Marsh. “This places them at a disadvantage both in building cyber resilience and in confronting the increasing complex cyber landscape.”

“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,” said Joram Borenstein, General Manager, Cybersecurity Solutions Group at Microsoft. “It is incumbent upon senior leaders to focus on these issues for the welfare of their organizations, their customers, their employees, and beyond.”

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