Digital Trust Insights 2021: 96% of executives said they’ll shift their cybersecurity strategy due to COVID-19

21 Oct 2020

96% of executives said they’ll shift their cybersecurity strategy due to COVID-19, with 50% saying they are more likely now to consider cybersecurity in every business decision up from 25% last year,  according to PwC ”Digital Trust Insights 2021” global report.

”COVID-19 has disrupted the way companies operate and we witnessed a growing dependence on technology, which also meant an increase in cyber risks. Attacks that exploited the fear of coronavirus spread faster than the pandemic and became increasingly sophisticated. Thus, along with user education and ongoing awareness of online threats, investments in technology, processes and people are essential in the fight against attackers. Last but not least, October is the month of cyber security in the European Union - a great opportunity to remember that the trust we seek in the online environment depends primarily on us, as a society”, said Mircea Bozga, Partner PwC Romania.

Over 40% of executives report that their organizations digitized at surprising speed in the pandemic’s first three months, advancing to year two or three of their five-year plans.

Speeding up automation to cut costs is the top digital ambition for 35% of the respondents, while for 31% is modernizing with new capabilities and for 29% of executives doing things faster and more efficiently.

The threat outlook for 2021: Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud service providers top the list of ‘very likely’ threats (mentioned by 33%), while cyber attacks on cloud services top the list of threats that will have ‘significantly negative impact’ (reported by 24%).

The main challenges of the industry

With 3.5 million cyber security jobs to be filled in 2021, the one problem plaguing the cybersecurity industry is a lack of skilled workers.

"Given the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, many organizations have had to rethink their cybersecurity strategies. The role of a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and a dedicated specialized team has never been more critical, both for overcoming the risks posed by this health crisis and for the further development of the organization. Until now, the most convenient for companies was upskilling internal employees, who managed cyber risks part-time, but we expect that more and more full-time specialist positions will arise", said Robert Stoicescu, Cybersecurity Leader, PwC Romania.

Fifty-one percent of executives in the survey said they plan to add full-time cybersecurity personnel over the next year, with more than 22% saying they will increase staffing by 5% or more. The top roles executives are looking to fill: cloud solutions architects 43%, security intelligence 40%, data analysis 37%, software development and QA 31% and computer programming 31%.

More than half of organizations, 55%, state that their cyber budget will be increasing rather than decreasing in 2021, a similar percentage say they don’t trust that their cyber spending is allocated towards the most significant risks to the organization. Forty-four percent say that they’re thinking about changing their budgeting process, and 37% strongly agree that quantification of cyber risks can significantly improve the way they manage spending against risks. Nevertheless, more than one-third strongly agree that organizations can strengthen their cyber posture while containing costs — thanks to automation and rationalization of tech.

The top-ranked outcomes desired in the next 2 years are: increased prevention of successful attacks, faster response times to disruptions, improved confidence of leaders in ability to manage threats, and improved customer experience.

Global Digital Trust Insights 2021 is based on PwC’s survey of 3,249 business and technology executives from around the world: Western Europe (34%), North America (29%), Asia Pacific (18%), Latin America (8%), Eastern Europe (4%), Middle East (3%), and Africa (3%)). Half of them are executives in large companies (USD 1 billion and above in revenues) and 15% are in companies with $10 billion or more in revenues.

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Mircea Bozga

Mircea Bozga,
PwC Romania

Robert Stoicescu

Robert Stoicescu,
Cybersecurity Leader
PwC Romania

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Diana Alexi

Marketing and Communication Leader, PwC Romania

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