Security & Fraud

U.S. CEOs Rank Cybersecurity As Biggest External Threat

Chief executives across the globe are bracing for a recession on the horizon, but when it comes to CEOs in the U.S., cybersecurity ranks higher as a concern.

According to a new survey by The Conference Board, U.S.-based CEOs ranked cybersecurity as their No.1 external concern for this year. That compares to China, where it ranked 10th in terms of external worries. In Europe, executives ranked cybersecurity at sixth. While globally, CEOs ranked a looming recession as the biggest risk, that isn't keeping domestic CEOs up at night. Instead, competition came in second, with a recession in third place.

The survey, which The Conference Board conducts annually, polls more than 800 CEOs and 600 additional C-Suite executives in the U.S., Asia and Europe.

It's not surprising that U.S. CEOs would be worried about cybersecurity. Many high-profile companies, such as Equifax, Facebook and Twitter, have been hacked in the past couple of years. This has hurt their reputations and cost them money, while also prompting the scrutiny of regulators and lawmakers who are calling for more cybersecurity legislation.

Despite the efforts to protect data, company CEOs aren't too worried. The Conference Board survey found that protecting consumers’ data doesn't even land on the top 10 of external concerns for the executives. The U.S. ranked it as a 12th-place issue, while Japan and China ranked it at 13. Among the regions that ranked a recession as the biggest risk were Japan, China and Latin America. Europe put it as a second-place concern.

“While CEOs are quite anxious about the external challenges the global economy poses to their businesses right now, the survey results suggest they’re aware of the need to stay focused on the longer-term disruptive forces impacting their future go-to-market plans,” said Bart van Ark, Ph.D., a report author and chief economist of The Conference Board. “That awareness reinforces the need to continue the development of new business models, a strategy that will be tempting to neglect if and when the economy starts slowing.”

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