New research reveals cyber-attacks biggest risk for Irish businesses

by Aishling Conway
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AON, a leading global professional services firm, has released survey findings this week that reveal cyber-attacks are the top current and future risk for businesses in Ireland.

Conducted every two years, Aon’s Global Risk Management Survey (GRMS) gathered insights from C-suite leaders, risk managers and senior executives across a range of industries including manufacturing, finance, technology, construction and food, agribusiness and beverage. Globally, the 2023 edition surveyed 2,842 respondents across 61 countries/territories, including Ireland, and 16 industries to identify their most-pressing business challenges.

Cyber-Attacks and Data Breaches tops the list of risks for businesses in Ireland, indicating that leaders are closely monitoring the increasing frequency and growing impact of potential attack. Major cyber incidents are resulting in greater operational and financial damage, with successful attacks typically triggering a 9% decrease in shareholder value for firms in the year after the attack, according to the 2023 Aon Cyber Resilience Report.

Findings from the GRMS show that the vast majority of firms in Ireland (94%) have a formal plan or are reviewing processes to mitigate against cyber risk, demonstrating that companies are acting proactively to protect and create business value. The importance of addressing cyber risk is also clear at a global level where cyber risk is the top current and predicted future risk.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Rachael Ingle, CEO of Aon Ireland said: “The world is more volatile with profound changes in trade, technology, weather and workforce issues impacting companies across Ireland. From cyber-attacks and geopolitical instability to low growth and a tight labour market, leaders in Ireland face an increasingly complex risk landscape.

“The Global Risk Management Survey published by Aon provides an important insight into the top risks facing firms in Ireland and the actions they’re taking to mitigate against their potential impact.”

Supply chain or distribution failure has risen to number three in the current risks facing companies in Ireland. Risks to the supply chain have come to the fore in recent weeks with the disruption to shipping in the Red Sea.

With an exceptionally tight labour market creating significant challenges for businesses, failure to attract or retain top talenthas risen eight places from the last survey in 2021 to number five in the top risks identified by businesses in Ireland. Economic Slowdown/Slow Recovery has fallen four places since 2021 to number six in the current risks facing Irish businesses, with inflationary pressures and high-interest rates creating economic and financing challenges for companies.

The risk posed by climate change has also risen significantly up the agenda for Irish firms – up 21 places to tenth in the top current risks facing Irish firms.When looking at future risk, climate change is ranked as the fourth most significant issue facing businesses, indicating its impact on businesses is quickly becoming more acute.

The shifting geopolitical and economic landscape globally is having a clear impact  in Ireland, with business disruption and supply chain or disruption failure making up the top three risks facing companies across the country. The disruption to supply chains linked to geopolitics and global conflicts has also been shown to be some of the most damaging for firms in Ireland, with 67% of organisations suffering losses due to Supply Chain or Distribution Failure and 75% because of Commodity Price Risk/Scarcity of Materials

Ingle continued: “Results show that cyber-attack is the top current and future risk identified by Irish businesses. With the frequency of cyber-attacks increasing and their potential impact deepening, we welcome the finding that most businesses are taking proactive action to mitigate against this likely risk. However, a small but significant number of firms have yet to implement any plan to address cyber risk and should move quickly to minimise its potential impact.

“By acting on the insights shared in our survey, leaders can ensure their organisation is better prepared for the challenges of today and tomorrow. Using advanced analytics and our expert capabilities, our team at Aon Ireland are supporting organisations across the country to navigate this complex risk environment and to make better informed decisions as they look to grow and thrive in 2024 and beyond.”

The top ten current business risks for Ireland are:

  1. Cyber Attacks/Data Breach
  2. Business Interruption
  3. Supply Chain or Distribution Failure
  4. Damage to Reputation/Brand
  5. Failure to Attract or Retain Top Talent
  6. Economic Slowdown/Slow Recovery
  7. Regulatory/Legislative Changes
  8. Commodity Price Risk/Scarcity of Materials
  9. Workforce Shortage
  10. Climate Change

PHOTO – Fennell Photography

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