66% of Canadian executives cite cyber attacks as their top business risk

New survey reveals Canadians surpass global peers in cybersecurity concerns

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(Toronto, 31 May 2018) Fraudulent, unethical and corrupt business practices, increasingly prevalent due to new technologies and inconsistent application of compliance policies, are a source of mounting concern for Canadian executives, according to the 15th EY Global Fraud Survey.

The survey reveals that 66% of Canadian respondents believe a cyber attack is the biggest risk to their business – a significant increase from the global average of 37%, and surpassing concerns over the changing regulatory environment (cited by 48% of Canadians). 

“Recent high-profile data breaches and concerns over online privacy are creating new risks for Canadian businesses,” says Zain Raheel, EY Canada Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services Leader. “Ongoing cybersecurity threats point to a critical need for rigorous and focused incident response plans to detect potential breaches and help minimize the occurrence of attacks.”

Views shift on integrity

Growing sophistication of cyber attacks is also increasing the vulnerability of the workforce. Canadian respondents recognize the importance of integrity among their people but little to no clarity exists as to who in the company is responsible for ensuring employees behave.  

Sixty-two percent of Canadian executives say management is primarily responsible for ensuring integrity among employees, followed by individual responsibility at 24% and HR at just 8%.

Enforcement falls flat

What’s more, survey results show Canadian executives are failing to uphold corporate integrity. Although 80% of respondents agreed there are clear penalties for violating company policies, only 46% could point to employees who have been penalized for breaching them.

“There is a great opportunity for companies to demonstrate that they are living their values by enforcing corporate integrity and implementing stringent compliance measures,” says Raheel. “Lack of enforcement, coupled with vague policies, sets the precedent that unethical behaviour may continue without consequences.”

Consequences remain unclear

When asked about the benefits of demonstrating integrity, public perception was ranked highest by Canadian executives at 76%, followed by customer perception at 62%. Successful business performance hovered at 46%, which is significantly lower than the North American average of 70% (and the global average of 59%).

“Canadian companies don’t necessarily see the clear connection of how integrity can impact the bottom line,” says Raheel. “Understanding the connection between integrity and business success is crucial to building the case for investment in anti-corruption and cyber capabilities – especially as many businesses prioritize their digital agenda through the rapid adoption of disruptive technologies and advanced analytics.”

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