The Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors has released its annual Risk in Focus 2021 report, which tracks the risks facing organisations year-on-year through the findings of 579 chief audit executives (CAEs).
The latest survey suggests businesses across the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe have “significantly shifted” their attitudes towards risk, according to the group.
Cybersecurity topped the list of risks, with 79% of businesses citing it as one of the major risks they face.
Some 27% of respondents said that cybersecurity was their number one risk, amid a heightened awareness of security threats posed by the rise in remote working, including an increase in phishing attempts and malware infections.
A further 42% of those surveyed cited their companies’ ability to remain solvent through the upcoming recession as one of their top five risks, marking a 40% increase on last year.
In addition, disasters and crisis preparedness was cited as a top five risk by 34% of CAEs, reflecting an increased focus on crisis management and business resilience as a result of the pandemic.
Bribery, fraud and other financial crime was cited by 25% as a top five risk, a 19% increase on the 21% who said that same a year ago
John Wood, CEO of the Chartered IIA commented: “Businesses are operating in extraordinary times and have had to adapt to new challenges this year like never before.
“Coronavirus has exacerbated existing risks, forcing organisations to think from completely new angles or assign new levels of priority to them.”
He added: “Cybersecurity is a case in point. Though a perennial front-of-mind risk for boards, the rise in remote working means cybersecurity issues have taken on a new dimension and IT infrastructure has had to adapt in record time.
“Internal audit can and should help organisations manage these new challenges by identifying their blind spots and opportunities to improve their operations.”