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January 24, 2022

Filings buzz in the tech sector: 35% increase in cybersecurity mentions in Q3 of 2021

By Verdict Staff

Mentions of cybersecurity within the filings of companies in the tech sector rose 35% between the second and third quarters of 2021.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to cybersecurity between October 2020 and September 2021 was 108% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData, from whom our data for this article is taken, first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.

When tech companies publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Cybersecurity is one of these topics – companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether cybersecurity is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of tech companies, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies which have mentioned cybersecurity at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 89% compared to 81% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to cybersecurity.

Of the 50 biggest employers in the tech sector, Atos SE was the company which referred to cybersecurity the most between October 2020 and September 2021. GlobalData identified 247 cybersecurity-related sentences in the France-based company's filings - 2.5% of all sentences. Huawei Investment & Holding Co Ltd mentioned cybersecurity the second most - the issue was referred to in 2.1% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high cybersecurity mentions included Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp, China Mobile Ltd and SAP SE.

Across all tech companies the filing published in the third quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on cybersecurity came from Palo Alto Networks Inc. Of the document's 1,507 sentences, 79 (5.2%) referred to cybersecurity.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on cybersecurity and how important the issue is considered within the tech sector, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning cybersecurity more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into cybersecurity have been successes or failures.

GlobalData also categorises cybersecurity mentions by a series of subthemes. Of these subthemes, the most commonly referred to topic in the third quarter of 2021 was 'data security', which made up 76% of all cybersecurity subtheme mentions by tech companies.