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Cyber threats top concerns for UK investors, business leaders

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Investors and chief executives say cyber attacks pose the greatest threat to businesses operating in the UK, outweighing other material risks including populism, trade protectionism and over-regulation, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

[LONDON] Investors and chief executives say cyber attacks pose the greatest threat to businesses operating in the UK, outweighing other material risks including populism, trade protectionism and over-regulation, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

An annual survey carried out by the accountancy firm shows that investors and business leaders share a mutual concern over the impact of cyber attacks, even as their views diverge on other threats facing British firms, PwC said on Monday.

UK investors approached by PwC also flagged technological change as a top risk, while CEOs placed higher emphasis on excessive regulation and skills shortages, the company said.

Cyber security tops the list of concerns at a time when governments and businesses are struggling to protect themselves against increasingly sophisticated digital exploits such as the WannaCry ransomware attack, which crippled parts of Britain's National Health Service last year as it infected more than 300,000 computers across 150 countries. 

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Globally, cyber crime could cost businesses as much as US$8 trillion in damage over the next five years, according to the World Economic Forum.

"Investing in cyber security, digital skills and training will be crucial for business leaders if they want investors to have confidence in their companies," said Hemione Hudson, head of assurance at PwC.

"The survey findings suggest investors are more concerned about the risks associated with rapidly evolving technology than CEOs."

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