Technological change brings new challenges for cyber security

The results of PwC’s 27th Global CEO Survey on cyber security

Your expert for questions

Grant Waterfall is Cyber Security Leader at PwC Germany and EMEA

Grant Waterfall
Cyber Security Leader at PwC Germany and EMEA

Cyber security is a much bigger worry for German CEO’s than the world average

Global tensions and the increasing number of cyberattacks are particularly worrying for CEOs in Germany: 42% see their company as being very much at risk from cyber risks in the next twelve months. Worldwide, the figure is only 21%. These are the findings of PwC’s 27th Global CEO Survey in which more that 4,700 CEO’s took part from over 100 countries.

In addition, 28% of German respondents are worried about geopolitical conflicts (worldwide 18%), and the same proportion are worried about climate change (worldwide 12%). Instead, inflation and macroeconomic volatility cause CEOs worldwide the most worries.

“A storm of heightened geopolitical tension, increased cyber attacks, rapid digital transformation and impending EU cyber resilience regulations continues to elevate executives’ awareness of cyber security risks. They recognise that cyber risk management is an essential prerequisite for business success.”

Grant Waterfall,Cyber Security Leader at PwC Germany and EMEA

Change as an opportunity: How CEOs implement secure business models

Cautiously optimistic: this is how the mood of CEOs can be described when it comes to the development of the global economy. 38% expect global growth and are confident about the future. Just one year ago, this figure was only 18%. Nevertheless, just under half (45%) doubt that their company would survive for more than a decade on its current course. Transformation and continuous innovation are therefore high on the agenda for many. 97% of those surveyed stated that they had reorganised their approaches to value creation in the last five years.

Our CEO Survey shows that CEOs are not only focussing on their business model, but also on their operations and modernisation of technology to support new approaches to value creation. Cloud adoption along with increased connectivity to enable new value chains requires a complete redesign of cyber security architecture to keep pace with this business and technological change.

Infographics: Actions indicating reinvention in the last 5 years

Decoding CEO Sentiments

The CISOs’ guide to the 27th PwC CEO Survey

Opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence

More than half of German CEOs expect AI to have transformative potential in both the next twelve months and the next three years. Generative AI in particular can significantly change the way companies work. AI-based solutions enable processes to be reorganised and entire business models and industries to be reshaped as a result. 

The emergence of Generative AI (GenAI) has provided added impetus to company’s cloud journeys. Its requirements for massive computing power and huge data volumes make cloud the only real option. However, GenAI also creates additional cybersecurity risks. Malicious threat actors can use it to write malware, more believable phishing emails and more convincing fake identities, rapidly and for widespread dissemination. Managing these risks will be the key to successfully launching GenAI initiatives and for that companies will need a risk management framework that also allows them to embrace opportunity. According to the survey, 65% of executives are concerned about potential cyber security risks. Just over a third of CEOs fear legal liabilities and reputational risks. In addition, 28% believe that AI could fuel the spread of misinformation within the company.

Infographics: Increase in unintended consequences from Generative AI in the next 12 months

Alongside the darker use cases, GenAI is set to play a growing role in strengthening cybersecurity. In our 2024 Digital Trust Insights survey, 64% of companies say they’ll use GenAI for cyber defence in the next 12 months, with nearly half (47%) saying that they’re already deploying AI for cyber risk detection and mitigation.

Decoding CEO Sentiments: The CISOs’ guide to the 27th PwC CEO Survey

The PwC CEO survey, an annual barometer of executive sentiment, provides multiple data points that capture the viewpoints of CEOs on important topics impacting their businesses. The 27th edition, published on January 15 2024, paints a picture of CEOs navigating through economic uncertainties and recalibrating priorities. It also provides key insights that can help cybersecurity teams and CISOs understand the direction their organisation is headed in and current sentiments on cyber risk.

In our paper, we highlight 5 metrics from the survey that speak directly to the theme of cyber, and their implications for the CISO function. We also share recommendations for CISOs to take action based on these insights.

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The methodology

Our annual study provides an exclusive insight into the mood of CEOs. We surveyed more than 4,700 CEOs from 105 countries worldwide between 2 October and 10 November 2023. All participants were assured that their responses would be treated in strict confidence. To ensure that the CEOs’ views are representative of all key regions, we have weighted the global and regional figures in proportion to the nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of individual countries.

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Grant Waterfall

Grant Waterfall

Partner, Cyber Security & Privacy Leader, PwC Germany