Last year fiscal crisis was the number one concern 

The threat of a cyber attack has been identified as the “most dangerous” risk by UK business leaders.

This is according to a new study “Regional Risks for Doing Business 2018” by the World Economic Forum (WEF) which looked at perspectives on the impact of risk regionally in the private sector.

Cyber attacks were also perceived as the main trading risk for 19 other countries including Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, Japan and the US.

Last year, fiscal crisis was a top concern and cyber risk held third position.


Top risks 2018

Top risks 2017


Cyber attacks

Fiscal crisis


Failure of national governance

Asset bubble


Asset bubble

Cyber attacks


Fiscal crisis

Failure of financial mechanisms or institution

Joint 5.

Failure of mechanical mechanisms or institution

Terrorist attacks

Failure of urban planning

Terrorist attack

The study saw 12,500 executives worldwide select what they believed to be of the five global risks of the “most concern” for business in their country over the next decade, out of a list of 30 including illicit trade, extreme weather events and terrorist attacks.

Cyber risk

John Scott, head of sustainability risk at Zurich added that it’s clear that UK business leaders have a “strong understanding” of the technological, social, economic risks with cyber risks now being their number one concern.

“It’s vital that businesses have clear risk management strategies in place to help them withstand any unforeseen consequences and build greater resilience within their business,” he said.

“We operate in a global system facing a huge degree of uncertainty and unprecedented period of change.”

He said that today’s macro-economic and geopolitical environment is “more complicated than ever.”

Scott warned that UK business leaders may be underestimating the environmental risks.

The study was in partnership with Zurich and Marsh.

Awake at night

Chris Lay, chief executive for UK and Ireland at Marsh explained: “While Brexit and political uncertainty continue to dominate UK news agendas, it’s cyber risk that’s keeping UK business leaders awake at night, topping the UK rankings for the second time in three years.

“Geopolitical risks are also a cause of major concern. Continuing uncertainty about the economic impact of Brexit – and the prospect of Britain leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ – mean that UK boards are increasingly preoccupied with heightened financial and political threats to their businesses.”

But he said that a number of measures, such as a clear risk management strategy could build greater operational resilience helping firms ensure that their people, assets and reputations are well-protected.

Under attack

In August, cyber criminals held Superdrug to ransom who claimed to have information on 20,000 of its online customers.

In April the NHS was hit by a cyber-attack allocating £150m to bolster its online security.

And Twitter was subject to a bug that exposed 33m users’ passwords in May.

Last year Dixons Carphone was targeted with customer data being illegally accessed.

The WEF has been publishing the Global Regional Risks report since 2006.