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Cyber attacks seen as top risk by Canadian business executives

By Kate McCaffery | November 12 2018 11:30AM

Cyber attacks rank number one among risks that concern business executives working in advanced economies and there is growing apprehension about the potential for national governance failures in emerging markets, say authors of a new study published by the World Economic Forum, in partnership with Zurich Insurance Group and Marsh & McLennan Companies.

The World Economic Forum released Nov. 12 its Regional Risks for Doing Business report, a small part of the group’s larger Global Competitiveness Report. The Regional Risks report surveyed 12,548 private sector business executives in 140 economies, asking them to select the top five global risks that are of most concern when doing business in their respective countries over the next 10 years.

Top five risks

In Canada, executives saythe  top five risks in 2018, in order, are: cyber attack, asset bubbles, extreme weather events, energy price shocks and the risk of critical infrastructure failure. More widely, across North America, cyber attacks, followed by data fraud or theft, extreme weather events, fiscal crises and energy price shocks are the top five risks cited by executives surveyed.

According to the report, 87 per cent of Canadian businesses reported being the victim of a successful breach in 2017. Of those which had experienced a cyber-attack during that time period, almost half lost sensitive data. In 20 per cent of those cases, sensitive customer or employee data was exposed.

Vulnerability to disruptions

“We will look back at 2017 as the year that the world began to take seriously the potential extent of our vulnerability to cyber-attack disruptions,” say the report’s authors. 

“Cyber-attacks are seen as the number one risk for doing business in markets that account for 50 per cent of global GDP,” adds Zurich Insurance Group global head of cyber risk, Lori Bailey. “This strongly suggests that governments and businesses need to strengthen cyber security and resilience in order to maintain confidence in a highly connected digital economy.”

To learn more, consult the full report here.

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