The World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified cyber risk as the biggest threat to doing business in Europe following a survey that revealed a surge in cyber attacks over the first half of 2018.
Estimates suggest that the number of cyber attacks across Europe increased by around a third in 2018.
The study asked 12,500 executives across 140 countries to identify the five biggest risks to doing business.
In total, cyber risk ranked number one in 12 countries, including Germany and the UK, which are Europe’s first and second largest economies, respectively.
“Cyber risk understandably tops the list of risks for a number of reasons, including the potentials of a sudden and unforeseen attack that can affect all levels of an organization and beyond and may result in unpredictable losses,” said Siobhan O’Brien, Head of Guy Carpenter’s Cyber Centre of Excellence for International and Global Specialties.
“It is possible to paralyze a segment of an economy through a cyberattack,” she added. “The (re)insurance industry can and should contribute to product innovation and expanding companies’ understanding of cyber risks and exposures, including the vital issue of silent cyber.”
“Silent cyber, for example, is receiving significant attention following loss events and is a risk where the modeling science is still evolving.”
Europe was affected by a number of notable cyber attacks in 2017, such as the WannaCry ransomware attack that seriously disrupted the UK’s health system and Germany’s rail system, WEF noted.
The survey’s data also indicated that cyber attacks tend to be flagged as a larger concern for the world’s more advanced economies.
Of the 19 countries that ranked it number one, 14 were from Europe and North America, while the others were India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
Guy Carpenter’s parent company, Marsh & McLennan Companies, is a strategic partner of the WEF on the global risks agenda.