Cyberattacks have been identified as the number one threat to Irish businesses, according to a survey by professional services firm Aon.
The company’s latest global risk management survey indicated businesses here are more worried about possible technology incursions and data breaches than about another economic slowdown, rising input prices, reputational damage or supply chain disruption.
The cyber risk also ranked ahead of business interruption, pandemic risk and Brexit for Irish businesses.
“With the increased reliance on technology amidst a surge in remote working and an almost 400 per cent increase in the number of ransomware attacks over the last two years, cyberattacks/data breach topped the list of risks in Ireland, ” the company said.
Aon also noted that cyber risk was also identified as the number one current and predicted future risk globally, the issue’s highest ranking since the survey began in 2007.
The firm’s survey, which is conducted every two years, collated opinions from more than 2,300 business leaders across 60 countries. Business leaders from some of Ireland’s largest employers were among those surveyed.
The finding comes in the wake of a report earlier this week by consultancy Grant Thornton which suggested that cybercrime cost the Irish economy €9.6 billion last year, with businesses, consumers and Government organisations becoming extra vulnerable to fraud as the Covid-19 crisis unfolded.
The Aon survey also noted that pandemic risk/health crises jumped from 16th on the list of global risks in 2019 to seventh in 2021, with the issue being identified as the ninth biggest risk currently facing Irish organisations in this year’s survey.
Failure to attract or retain top talent came in at number four on the list of predicted future risks for Irish businesses, highlighting the growing concern over a shortage of skilled talent and the “great resignation” now under way.
Commenting on the results of the survey, Peter Brady, Aon Ireland’s chief executive of commercial risk and health solutions, said: “The past two years have proved to be incredibly volatile, with the global Covid-19 pandemic bringing new and previously unforeseen business risks to the fore.”
“Over that time, business leaders have come to understand the critical importance of proactively managing risk and making decisions that enhance the resilience of their organisation,” Mr Brady said.
“The top 10 risks identified by Irish business leaders within our global risk management survey strongly reflect the lingering impact of the pandemic, growing uncertainty linked to climate change and the obstacles that lie ahead as firms continue to recover, innovate and grow.” he added.
“Cyberattacks are at the very forefront of business concerns as many companies in Ireland evolve to a hybrid working model and look to increase the pace of digital transformation.”