German companies for the first time view cyber attacks as the greatest threat to their business operations, according to a risk barometer by the insurance giant Allianz. Handelsblatt obtained the Allianz study in advance of its publication.
Last year, the barometer ranked terrorism and the collapse of the euro zone as bigger risks to business than cyber attacks. But high profile incidents such as the cyber attack against Yahoo and the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s U.S. presidential campaign have raised awareness in Germany.
“In Germany, we see greater activity by the legislature and a growing awareness among management,” Andreas Berger, an executive at Allianz, told Handelsblatt. “A growing number of companies are developing cyber defense strategies.”
German companies feel increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks as their wealth rests more and more in intellectual property stored on computers, as opposed to physical capital such as factories.
Companies in Germany are also concerned that cyber attacks against public infrastructure, such as telecommunication, electricity and water networks could paralyze business. According to Allianz risk analysts, the growing concern about cyber attacks helps explain why German companies have viewed interruptions to business operations as one of their greatest threats for the past five years.
According to a survey by the digital association Bitkom, 69 percent of German companies have been the victims of data theft, economic espionage and sabotage over the past two years. It estimated the damage from such attacks costs Germany industry €22.4 billion ($23.5 billion) annually.
Allianz’s survey of German companies was part of a broader study that polled 1,200 risk experts in 55 countries.