The risk of becoming a victim of a cyberattack has increased in the past year, according to many companies. Almost one in four companies in the information economy says that this risk has increased since the beginning of 2020. This is the result of a recent survey conducted by ZEW Mannheim among more than 900 companies in the information economy.

Dr Daniel Erdsiek and Vincent Rost from the research area "Digital Economy" on the corporate risk of cyber attacks.
Dr Daniel Erdsiek, researcher at ZEW's Digital Economy Research Unit, explains why larger companies are more likely to be affected by cyber attacks.

“Especially companies with at least 100 employees see themselves exposed to increased cyber threats. In the information economy, about 42 per cent of large companies perceive a greater risk of cyberattacks,” says Dr. Daniel Erdsiek, researcher in ZEW’s Digital Economy Department. “One possible reason for this significantly higher level of concern could be that large companies – simply because of their higher profile – are more likely to be the target of cyberattacks than smaller, less well-known companies.”

The rise in cyberthreats since the beginning of 2020 may have several reasons. Firstly, the general number of cyber criminals and/or cyberattacks may have increased. Secondly, companies may have become increasingly aware of potential gateways for cyberattacks and thus the higher vulnerability of their IT systems. “Weaknesses in companies’ cybersecurity are likely to have arisen not least because COVID-19-related adjustments to the digital infrastructure often had to be implemented at short notice,” says Erdsiek. This is because numerous companies invested in their digital infrastructure within a very short time during the pandemic in order to enable their employees to work from home as quickly as possible.

In the survey, the companies were also asked to rate the importance of IT security. Overall, 64 per cent of the companies in the information economy consider it to be very high. Over time, there is a clear trend toward greater awareness in this regard. In 2013, the share was still significantly lower at 55 per cent. “With a share of 70 per cent, companies in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector in particular see a very high importance of IT security. The shares are somewhat lower among knowledge-intensive service providers at 63 per cent and among media service providers at 49 per cent,” says Vincent Rost, also a researcher in ZEW’s Digital Economy Department.



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