Asset bubble risks and interstate conflicts round off the top three

The threat of cyber attacks is the biggest risk facing Europe today, according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Regional Risks for Doing Business 2019 report.

The report found that cyber attacks topped the list of risks facing European nations, followed by asset bubble risks and interstate conflict.

 The Top 10 European Risks

 1. Cyber attacks

 2. Asset bubble

 3. Interstate conflict

 4. Energy price shock

 5. Fiscal crises

 6. Data fraud or theft

 7. Failure of national governance

 8. Unemployment or underemployment

 9. Large-scale involuntary migration

 10. Profound social instability

And the threat from cyber risks is on the rise. Research from Hiscox found that 61% of businesses reported cyber incidents so far in 2019 compared to 45% in the previous year.

Zurich UK chief executive Tulsi Naidu says this rise in cyber attacks represents a big threat to UK businesses, and says more must be done to protect these organisations, as well as individuals.

“Of particular note to the UK, is the finding that cyber attacks are the most pressing risk for CEOs of the four largest EU economies (Germany, France, Italy and the UK), while data theft comes sixth across Europe,” she says. “Data breaches and cyber attacks have caused billions of pounds of damage to organisations across the globe.

“These attacks are becoming increasingly frequent and sophisticated at an organisational and at a personal level, and it is vital that organisations and individuals take the right precautions to protect themselves.”

And Naidu says that many organisations still underestimate the potential impact these cyber attacks can have, and expects insurance to have a much greater role in this area going forward.

“While organisations are increasingly alert to the impact cyber attacks can have, many do not yet fully appreciate the dangers, and must step up their efforts to combat the threat,” she says. “As such, this is an area of insurance we expect to see grow.”

Globally, cyber attacks were the top risk for six of the world’s 10 largest economies: the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada, and, alongside Europe, was also the top risk for North America.

The WEF report said that this is likely due to the increase in cyber attacks in these regions in recent years.

“These regions have been the subject of multiple and notable incidents over the past year,” it wrote. “The LockerGoga ransomware was used to attack prominent industrial and manufacturing companies in France, Norway and the United States; digitised public services were breached in multiple cities in the United States, including Atlanta and Baltimore; and the European Central Bank shut down an external website after it detected a possible compromise of personal data.”

The WEF also found that cyber attacks and data fraud or theft were the second and seventh global risks most likely to increase over the next 10 years, and said that this was a worrying trend for businesses.

“The fact that cyber threats worry the business community as much as they do academia, civil society, governments and other thought leaders shows just how disruptive this risk is to all aspects of life,” it wrote. “As economies and societies continue to digitise, cyber attacks are both more lucrative for attackers and more dangerous for victims.”