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Audit chiefs see cybersecurity as biggest risk to business

Cybersecurity is the biggest risk to organisations across the private and public sector, according to research conducted by Risk in Focus, a collaborative report between seven European institutes of internal auditors.

Over two-thirds (68%) of the 300 chief internal auditors questioned said cybersecurity is one of the top five risks their organisations faces.

The report looked at research from PwC which found that while 62% of organisations expect cyber risk to cause disruption in the next three years, 74% have low or no cyber risk maturity.

It noted that organisations tend to view cybersecurity through a technical lens by investing in security tools, then seek assurance that these are of a high standard, however more must be done to educate staff in this area so that data is not compromised or lost through human error.

The report suggested that companies’ boards, with the help of internal audit, should have a broad view of the organisation’s response to the rising cyber threat and the quality of its cyber governance and risk management.

The UK and Ireland’s Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors’ (IIA) CEO Ian Peters said: “Cybersecurity has been a high-priority risk for a number of years and this shows no signs of abating. However, companies are pushing to move away from legacy systems and, as approaches to managing cyber risk mature, attention is turning to third-party defensibility.

“High-profile cyberattacks such as Petya and WannaCry are becoming more and more prevalent and this means that organisations are only as strong as the weakest link in their IT supply chain.”

The IIA said a major obstacle to mitigating cyber risk is ‘the piecemeal approach that organisations have taken to their IT infrastructure planning and development over past decades’.

It continued to say that it is ‘important now that organisations turn to looking at outsourced or third party supply chains to ensure that they are not vulnerable to cyberattacks’. 

Compliance and data security and protection were second to cybersecurity, with 58% of respondents citing this as a risk their organisation faces.

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