A majority of busy board members and senior executives who are responsible for their organization’s cyber risk management spent less than a day in the last year focusing on cyber risk issues, according to a new report published by Marsh and Microsoft Corp.

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 organization’s ability to manage cyber threats has declined, Marsh/Microsoft’s “2019 Global Cyber Risk Perception Survey” report concluded.

The global survey of 1,500 organizations details the current state of cyber risk perceptions and risk management, building on a related survey conducted in 2017. The report highlights the gap between concern and approach to cyber threats.

According to this year’s survey, nearly 80 percent of organizations now rank cyber risk as a top-five concern compared to 62 percent in 2017.

Only 11 percent, however, expressed a high degree of confidence in their ability to assess cyber threats, prevent cyber attacks and respond effectively, which is down from 19 percent in 2017.

For many organizations, strategic cyber risk management remains a challenge, the report indicated. For example, while nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of organizations surveyed identified a senior executive or the board as a main owner of cyber risk management, only 17 percent 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 percent) spent several hours or less.

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

At the same time, organizations continue to embrace new technologies but are uncertain about the risks they bring. Three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents said they are adopting or have adopted cloud computing, robotics or artificial intelligence, yet only 36 percent say they evaluate cyber risk both before and after adoption; 11 percent don’t evaluate the risk at all.

“We are well into the age of cyber risk awareness, yet too many organizations still struggle with creating a strong cybersecurity culture with appropriate levels for governance, prioritization, 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.”

Source: Marsh

*This story appeared previously in our sister publication Insurance Journal.