At the end of last year, a security vulnerability in the widespread program module "Log4j" caused many companies to become very upset.

Germany's top cyber security authority BSI declared the highest alert level, several large corporations such as Volkswagen, SAP and Deutsche Telekom took countermeasures and quickly installed updates to close possible security gaps.

Henning Peitsmeier

Business correspondent in Munich.

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More and more companies fear a wave of cyber attacks.

They are the biggest concern for the global economy this year.

The threat of ransomware attacks, data breaches and IT outages worried businesses even more than business and supply chain disruptions, natural disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer, published by Allianz's industrial insurer, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), has now published.

After that, business interruptions

In addition to the dangers for IT, business interruptions represent the greatest business risks. In Germany, the order is reversed. "Disruptions to operations will probably remain the most important risk issue in 2022," explained AGCS boss Joachim Müller. "For most companies, the biggest fear is not being able to manufacture their products or deliver their services."

However, business interruption, cyber and the pandemic are closely linked, as experts believe they show the growing vulnerability of a highly globalized and networked world. "The accumulation of mutually reinforcing events has certainly reached a new dimension," said Jürgen Wiemann, head of AGCS property insurance in Central and Eastern Europe. According to him, the fact that the corona concerns in the economy are decreasing and are only fourth in the ranking behind natural disasters is probably due to the time of the survey in November, when the Omicron variant was not yet dominating the headlines.

For eleven years, AGCS has been researching the most important risks for companies around the world and interviewing risk experts from various industries. Last year, 2,650 professionals from 89 countries were surveyed, including board members, risk managers, brokers and insurance professionals. The Munich-based risk barometer shows that the risk of a cyber attack (44 percent of the answers) is at the top of the experts' list of concerns, closely followed by business interruption (42 percent) and natural disasters (25 percent).

Recent attacks showed a worrying trend such as "double ransom tactics" that combine encrypting systems with data theft, said AGCS cyber expert Jens Krickhahn.

And although many companies have invested heavily in IT security, attackers keep finding new gaps.