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  • Cyber-attacks and Data loss top concerns facing Directors & Officers as COVID-19 impacts the risk landscape, according to Willis Towers Watson and Clyde & Co

    Published on July 13, 2021

    Cyber-attacks and data loss are the top risks facing Directors & Officers (D&Os), with the pandemic serving to heighten the concerns, according to a global survey from Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) and Clyde & Co, a leading global law firm.

    The survey, covering UK, Europe, APAC and the US, identifies the key risks for Directors across the globe with cyber-attacks (56% of respondents saying the risk was very significant or extremely significant), data loss (49%), regulatory risk (46%), Health and Safety risk (41%) and the risk of Employment claims (38%) making up the Top 5 risks this year.

    In APAC, 42% of respondents stated cyber-attacks as their top concern. This may be attributable to the stark rise in publicised data breach events in the region in the last 18 months, combined with the trend of tightening data protection laws, with certain jurisdictions in Asia becoming more aligned to the penalties and obligations set out in the GDPR.

    Commenting on the survey findings, Rohit Jain, Head of India, Willis Towers Watson, said, “In India, the Personal Data Protection bill, which is currently under parliamentary review, brings to the fore the role of Directors and the likely risk exposure in the event of a data or cyber breach. In addition, there is an increased expectation on the Board of Directors from investors, regulators, government bodies and customers as the focus on ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) related matters grow. The pandemic only serves to exacerbate the risk spectrum confronting Directors, making it critical for them to reevaluate their risk exposure and consider the most appropriate D&O insurance coverage that is commensurate to the emerging nature and quantum of risk”.

    Other key findings of the report include:

    ·         Increased vulnerability to data loss is resulting from business moving to new procedures and systems overnight due to the COVID-19 pandemic with remote working creating a fertile ground for cyber criminals.

    ·         Regulatory and litigation risk continues to challenge organisations with board diversity now becoming mandatory to most businesses

    ·         Expected concern about insolvency featured considerably lower than in the last survey despite speculation of a potential wave of insolvencies.

    Jennifer Tiang, Regional Cyber Leader for Asia at Willis Towers Watson, said: “The survey results reflect the growing realisation that cyber risk is not simply an issue to be handled by an organisation’s IT team.  It is a much broader issue cutting across all spheres of business and necessarily draws together stakeholders from risk, legal and IT teams, as well as requiring awareness of all employees from the ground up and board oversight from the top down. From cyber-attack to data loss, the financial impacts of a cyber event can be catastrophic.”