Despite heightened cyber concerns, less than half of business leaders have adopted basic preventive measures, according to the Travelers Risk Index.
Cyber threats are the top concern for U.S. business leaders, according to the 2021 Travelers Risk Index results that Travelers announced last week. The results mark a return to the top spot for cyber, which also ranked first in 2019.
As the beginning of October marks Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the majority (59%) of the 1,200 business leaders who participated in the national survey said they worry some or a great deal about cyber, compared to medical cost inflation (53%) and increasing employee benefit costs (53%).
Security breaches, system glitches and unauthorized access to bank accounts are the top three cyber-specific business concerns and more than 1 in 2 of companies believe it is inevitable that at some point they will be the victim of a data breach or cyberattack.
Despite heightened cyber concerns, only 61% of participants reported feeling extremely or very confident in their company's cyber practices. However, less than half of survey respondents have adopted basic preventive measures available to companies, such as multifactor authentication, and cyberattacks continue to increase both in frequency and severity.
One-fourth of participants said their company has been a cyber victim—a 150% increase from 2015—with nearly half reporting that the event happened within the past 12 months. The percentage of respondents who said their company suffered a security breach where someone hacked into a system increased nearly 40% compared to 2020, to almost half (46%).
Positively, however, there continues to be an increase in the percentage of survey respondents whose companies have purchased a cyber insurance policy: 56% this year compared to 39% in 2018.
“We constantly work to raise awareness of the serious and costly consequences that cyber threats can pose," said Tim Francis, enterprise cyber lead at Travelers. “These survey results show that despite cyber risks being the top concern, too many companies are unprepared to deal with them. It's crucial that businesses take the necessary actions to protect their data and assets, especially with so many employees continuing to work remotely."
The Index follows a recent meeting at the White House where Alan Schnitzer, chairman and CEO of Travelers, joined President Biden, members of his Cabinet and national security team, and private sector and education leaders to discuss how to improve the nation's cybersecurity.
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.