Cybersecurity becomes focus for UK CEOs during COVID-19

By Sam Steers
Due to COVID-19, CEOs across the UK are turning their attention to cybersecurity so they can achieve their digital transformation and home-working goals...

UK CEOs are starting to place an increasing amount of emphasis on the importance of cybersecurity and data protection in an attempt to achieve their goals of digital transformation and working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes after a survey titled ‘24th Annual CEO Survey for 2021’, conducted by PwC UK found that, over the next three years, 67% of CEOs in the United Kingdom plan to increase their long-term investment in cybersecurity and data protection.

The survey also found that 91% of CEOs are concerned about cyber threats, the figure being the highest ever recorded since CEOs were first asked about cyber-related threats.

As well as this, 48% of those surveyed said they were ‘extremely concerned’ about cyber threats, up from 42% in 2020, resulting in the need to increase cybersecurity awareness.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing companies to adapt their operations to a more online environment, Chris Gaines, Cyber Security Leader of PwC UK believes that this has played a major role in the concerns over the threat protection of organisations. 

As the criticality of technology has increased over the past year, so have UK CEOs’ fears of cybersecurity threats. This heightened concern is understandable as the stakes are so much higher than they were 12 months ago. 

“Businesses have become more aware of how reliant on the technology they are for their very survival, and as such the risk of cybersecurity attacks naturally weighs more heavily on their minds, he said.

“The technological changes implemented over the past 12 months have not only been across businesses, but also society, and many were implemented in haste.”

He added: “Risk-averse organizations who in different times may have taken years to plan for increased remote working made the change overnight. Organizations must now effectively, securely embed such changes while continuing to evolve and innovate.”

Chris also points out that it is important for organisations to not just consider their online security but also how cyber crime can impact on business as a whole.

He said: "Securing an enterprise is far more than ensuring the CIO builds the right technical controls. It is about simplifying the organization to be securable. It is about assessing, understanding and managing the cyber risk impact of every business decision. And it is about recognizing that much of cybersecurity risk originates from vulnerabilities outside their organization.

"CEOs are right to be concerned about cybersecurity risk but the challenge they face is shaping their organizations to be securable. However, this period of change we find ourselves in presents the perfect moment to face into that challenge," he added.

Between January and February 2021, PwC Surveyed 5,050 CEOs in 100 countries and when asked which threats featured in their risk management, “cyber threats” was the most-chosen response, ahead of “pandemics and other health crises” and “uncertain economic growth”. 

The transfer to online due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic affects everybody and cybersecurity looks to provide an opportunity for CEOs to increse their online security and better prepare them for future cyber attacks. 

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