Davos 2018: Terrorists & Hackers Worry CEOs More Than Rising Taxes
Representational Image.
Representational Image. (Photo: iStock)

Davos 2018: Terrorists & Hackers Worry CEOs More Than Rising Taxes

Terror attacks and cybersecurity attacks give a growing number of chief executives of global firms more sleepless nights than higher taxes, uncertain economic conditions or rising automation.

41 percent of the 1,293 CEOs surveyed said they are “extremely concerned” about terrorism, while 40 percent said the same for cyber threats, according to a survey by tax and audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. This is much higher than last year when terrorism didn’t appear in the list of top 10 threats to an organisation’s growth prospects.

Over-regulation, according to the survey, continues to be the top concern for CEOs.

(Photo Courtesy: BloombergQuint)

There was a spike in terror attacks, mostly lone wolf hits, last year. From a van ramming on the Westminster Bridge in the UK, a subway bombing in Saint Petersburg, a blast at a pop concert in Manchester and a shooting at a concert in Las Vegas, more than a 100 people died in nine such attacks.

The year also saw one of the worst cyberattacks. WannaCry ransomware affected more than three lakh computers across 150 countries, personal data of more than 800 million individuals was compromised in hack at US-based Equifax.

Even HBO’s popular show Game of Thrones wasn’t spared with nearly 1.5 terabytes of data stolen and leaked. Research firm Cybersecurity Ventures expects cybercrime to cost more than $6 trillion by 2021.

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While every region has a different mix of concerns, CEOs across the board are “increasingly anxious about broader societal threats” like terrorism, climate change and geopolitical uncertainty rather than “direct business risks such as changing consumer behaviour or new market entrants”, PwC said in its report.

The PwC report adds that the threats troubling CEOs are increasingly existential.

PwC Annual Global CEO SurveyClimate change was an new feature on their worry list this year, with 36 percent of respondents “extremely concerned” about what it could mean for businesses. A region-wise breakdown of concerns of CEOs throws up a slightly varied picture.

Regional overlaps are interesting, but so are the differences in terms of top threats. While cybersecurity is the top threat in North America, it ranks eleventh in Central Europe, and fifteenth in Latin America.
PwC Report

Populism was the biggest concern for chief executives in Western Europe and Latin American regions. Lack of the availability of “key skills” was the top concern for CEOs in Asia-Pacific, Central and Eastern European regions. For the Middle East, the biggest worry was geopolitical uncertainty, while African CEOs saw their biggest risk coming from social instability.

Another interesting feature of the survey was that CEOs in Asia-Pacific region were “worried about everything”. At least 20 percent “are extremely concerned about every threat on the list”.

(Originally published on BloombergQuint and republished here with permission.)

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