According to the Allianz Risk Barometer, cyber incidents (ransomware, data breaches and IT disruptions) are the top global concern of 2024.

In the United States, cyber has replaced business interruption as the leading risk for the year ahead. Natural catastrophes rose to the third spot (up from #5 in 2023). For Canadian companies, business interruption jumped to the top spot (up from #4 in 2023) followed by cyber incidents and natural catastrophes. Large corporates, mid-size and smaller businesses are united by the same risk concerns.

However, the resilience gap between large and smaller companies is widening, as risk awareness among larger organizations has grown since the pandemic with a drive to upgrade resilience, the report notes. Conversely, smaller businesses often lack the time and resources to identify and effectively prepare for a wider range of risk scenarios and, as a result, take longer to get the business back up and running after an unexpected incident.

Cyber incidents (36% of overall responses) rank as the most important risk globally for the third year in a row. It is the top peril in 17 countries, including Australia, France, Germany, India, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. A data breach is seen as the most concerning cyber threat (59%) followed by attacks on critical infrastructure and physical assets (53%). The recent increase in ransomware attacks ranks third (53%).

Despite an easing of post-pandemic supply chain disruption in 2023, business interruption (31%) retains its position as the second biggest threat in the 2024 survey. This result reflects the interconnectedness in an increasingly volatile global business environment, as well as a strong reliance on supply chains for critical products or services. Improving business continuity management, identifying supply chain bottlenecks and developing alternative suppliers continue to be key risk management priorities for companies in 2024.

Natural catastrophes (26%) is one of the biggest movers at #3, up three positions. 2023 was a record-breaking year on several fronts. Climate change (18%) may be a non-mover year-on-year at #7 but is among the top three business risks in countries such as Brazil, Greece, Italy, Turkey and Mexico. Physical damage to corporate assets from more frequent and severe extreme weather events are a key threat. The utility, energy and industrial sectors are among the most exposed. In addition, net zero transition risks and liability risks are expected to increase in future as companies invest in new, largely untested low-carbon technologies to transform their business models.

The shortage of skilled workforce (12%) is seen as a lower risk than in 2023, dropping from #8 to #10. However, businesses in Central and Eastern Europe, the UK and Australia identify it as a top five business risk. Given there is still record low unemployment in many countries around the globe, companies are looking to fill more jobs than there are people available to fill them. IT or data experts are seen as the most challenging to find, making this issue a critical aspect in the fight against cybercrime.