For the first time ever, cyber incidents ranked as the top business risk globally in the ninth annual Allianz Risk Barometer, a survey of more than 2,700 risk management experts. Awareness of the cyber threat has grown rapidly in recent years, with 39 percent of respondents ranking it as the most important risk this year, compared to just 6 percent seven years ago when the cyber threat ranked only 15th.

“The costs of a cyber incident are rising across the board, a product of growing complexity, more stringent regulation and the damaging consequences to a business from a loss of data or critical systems,” said Marek Stanislawski, Deputy Global Head of Cyber at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS). “In particular, the cost of large data breaches continues to increase, as data protection and privacy regulation widen in scope and geographical reach and class action litigation also starts to impact the cost of dealing with a breach.” According to AGCS, employee training is one of the most effective forms of cyber risk mitigation because many cyber incidents are the result of human error, especially in areas like phishing and spoofing.

Similarly, PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey found that CEOs in North America regard cyber incidents as the top threat to their businesses. In terms of personal exposure to cyber threats, the PwC survey found that 36 percent of U.S. CEOs have adopted the ultimate form of risk mitigation—deleting their social media accounts.