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Cyber threats top concerns for U.K. investors, business leaders

(Bloomberg) -- Investors and chief executives say cyber attacks pose the greatest threat to businesses operating in the U.K., outweighing other material risks including populism, trade protectionism and over-regulation, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

An annual survey carried out by the accountancy firm shows that investors and business leaders share a mutual concern over the impact of cyber attacks, even as their views diverge on other threats facing British firms, PwC said on Monday. U.K. investors approached by PwC also flagged technological change as a top risk, while CEOs placed higher emphasis on excessive regulation and skills shortages, the company said.

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A lock screen from a cyber attack warns that data files have been encrypted on a laptop computer in this arranged photo in London, U.K., on Monday, May 15, 2017. Governments and companies around the world began to gain the upper hand against the first wave of an unrivaled global cyberattack, even as the assault was poised to continue claiming victims this week. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Cyber security tops the list of concerns at a time when governments and businesses are struggling to protect themselves against increasingly sophisticated digital exploits such as the WannaCry ransomware attack, which crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service last year as it infected more than 300,000 computers across 150 countries. Globally, cyber crime could cost businesses as much as $8 trillion in damage over the next five years, according to the World Economic Forum.

“Investing in cyber security, digital skills and training will be crucial for business leaders if they want investors to have confidence in their companies,” said Hemione Hudson, head of assurance at PwC. “The survey findings suggest investors are more concerned about the risks associated with rapidly evolving technology than CEOs.”