Despite the widespread disruption to business that Brexit is expected to bring when the UK exits the European Union in March, just 14% of UK organisations who took part in a global survey believe it poses the biggest risk to business in 2019.

According to the Annual Survey of Risk Managers, conducted by risk management software provider Sword GRC, businesses are more concern about cybersecurity. A quarter of UK organisations highlighted cybersecurity as the biggest threat, while in the United States this figure rose to 40%.

“That cybersecurity is now recognised as the single biggest risk for many organisations is no surprise to us, as it supports the anecdotal evidence we have seen working with our clients in some of the most risk-aware industries globally,” said Keith Ricketts, Vice-President of Marketing at Sword GRC.

This is likely the result of the numerous large-scale cyber attacks that have occurred over the past 12 months and the potentially costly fines that businesses now face in the wake of new regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If businesses are found to have inadequately protected customer data, they can now be fined up to €20m or 4% of global annual turnover under GDPR.

Emerging technologies: Risky business

The survey also found that emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) also provide new risks.

In the UK, for example, some 23% of risk managers believe that it is likely or highly likely that AI-use could spiral out of control.

Despite the risks that technology brings, the organisations surveyed recognised that making use of emerging technologies is vital to achieving growth,  acknowledging that harnessing new technology offered more lucrative opportunities than expansion into new product markets or sectors.

“Technology is a great enabler and that has never been more true,” Ricketts said.

“The feedback we have from our Risk Managers is that information technology is the key to almost every opportunity for business going forward, whether that is supporting expansion into new markets and geographies, streamlining processes to gain efficiency or harnessing big data and artificial intelligence to power product development and business performance.”

A recent study by technology industry network Spiceworks, the 2019 State of Future Workplace Tech, found that 25% of European businesses and 13% of North American businesses plan to invest in emerging technologies over the next two years.

A cybersecurity solution

However, according to Orli Gan, global head of threat detection at IT security provider Check Point, rapidly advancing technology is part of the problem for those fearing cyberattacks.

“Technology moves really fast and normally not with any regard to security,” Gan previously told Verdict.

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“There is no single silver bullet [to help organisations to protect themselves],” she said.

“You have to understand the complexity of the problem, you have to address the different angles in different capacities, and you always have to have multiple advisories and engines that combined can give you that accuracy that you require from a product that you’re actually going to use.”