The World Economic Forum is a public-private organization based in Switzerland that studies the interconnectedness of our world and the impact that actions can have on a global scale. Their goal is to educate and inform today’s leaders so that these influencers have an understanding of the interplay between their roles, decisions made and the risks to society at large. The ultimate intention, of course, is to inspire positive action and reduce identified risks.
The Global Risks Report 2018
For the past 13 years, the World Economic Forum has been publishing the Global Risks Report as part of their effort to inform and educate. The report gathers input from the World Economic Forum’s internal teams, worldwide external experts and approximately 1,000 stakeholder surveys. The report examines issues and trends across all areas of society – from economic and political, to technological and cultural – to determine which may have the greatest impact on society as a whole.
It is not new for cyberattacks to be noted as a risk.
The Risk of Cyberattacks
Honing in on technology, cyberattacks are a top risk identified by the Global Risks Report 2018. In fact, the report breaks out risks in two ways — by how likely they are to occur and by how great of an impact they will have. Cyberattacks make both lists at the number three and six spots, respectively. Related to this, data breaches and theft garnered the number four spot on the likeliness-to-occur list.
It is not new for cyberattacks to be noted as a risk. They were first added to the list in 2012. Today, however, they have become more widespread and the resulting dangers from being attacked are greater, which is why they have jumped closer to the top of the list this year.
How Ready Is Your Business to Protect Itself from Cybercrime?
Questions that fall out of the report leave businesses wondering about the direct impacts that cybercrime could have on their future.
- Could an unethical company use cyberattacks to gain competitive advantages?
- Could a ransomware attack force business closure because critical data can’t be accessed or because the cost required to reclaim this data is too high?
- Could a targeted attack cause so much technical disruption to the business that it would be unable to provide service to customers?
- Could you face fines (think GDPR) and loss of customer trust because consumer data was stolen?
Executives and IT leaders ranked as novices in terms of their readiness to protect their businesses from cyberattacks.
The answer to all of these is “absolutely!” This is because most companies are not cyber-ready, either in terms of strategy or execution (meaning the processes and tools to deal with cyberattacks). In early 2018, Hiscox conducted a survey on the readiness of companies to combat cybercrime. The results showed that (on a scale of novice – intermediate – expert), 73 percent of the 4,100 executives and IT leaders surveyed ranked as novices in terms of their readiness to protect their businesses from cyberattacks. Larger firms tended to be slightly better prepared: this was attributed to the facts that they have larger IT budgets and that they are under attack more frequently because the payoff for criminals is larger.
However, this doesn’t mean that small to mid-sized businesses can ignore the risks. The same study documented that 45% of all respondents had been victims of at least one attack. It then evaluated what the cost of the attacks had been. The average cost of attacks was USD 35,678 for companies with fewer than 250 employees. For companies with 250 till 1,000 employees, that rose to USD 397,612. Regardless of industry or company size, a cyberattack could be crippling – funds wiped out, consumer trust eroded, critical systems forced to become non-operational.
So, if you aren’t already in the “expert” category in terms of readiness to address cybercrime, think about these numbers and where a cyberattack would leave your business. When it’s your turn to fend off a threat, will you be ready to respond to security attacks, or will you find yourself panicking over what’s to become of your business? Put a strategy, people and tools in place today to secure your business’ future – and to protect the consumers who have placed their trust in you.