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Auditors more worried about cybersecurity than AI risks

October 10, 2023

A majority of chief audit executives and information technology audit leaders consider cybersecurity to be a top risk over the next year, but they're less concerned about artificial intelligence, according to a new survey.

The survey, released Tuesday by the Institute of Internal Auditors and the consulting firm Protiviti, polled more than 550 chief audit executives and IT audit professionals on the technology risks their companies face over the near term (12 months) and medium term (two to three years), and found that nearly 75% of respondents, and an even higher percentage (82%) of CAEs and technology audit leaders, consider cybersecurity to be a high-risk area over the next 12 months. In comparison, only 28% of the respondents indicated the use of AI (including generative AI) and machine learning would pose significant threats over the next 12 months.

However, while AI may not be seen as an immediate threat, it is rising quickly as a risk. Over half (54%) of the survey respondents believe advanced AI systems, including generative AI, present substantial risks in the next two to three years. Few organizations believe their level of preparedness or the proficiency of their technology audit group in handling AI, generative AI and machine learning risks are at acceptable levels.

Other areas identified as significant threats over the next 12 months include third parties and vendors (60%), data privacy and compliance (58%), and transformations and system implementations (55%).

Companies are focused now on hiring talent to handle such risks, as well as retain and upskill their existing current employees to lessen their exposure to cyber and AI-related risks.

"When it comes to technology challenges, not only are companies facing a wide range of threats, but each of these threats is changing at an alarming rate," said Angelo Poulikakos, global leader of Protiviti's technology audit and advisory practice, in a statement. "Risks related to cyber and AI look radically different than a few years ago, and will surely continue to evolve. Companies that conduct internal audits more frequently and integrate advanced analytical tools and techniques into their audit processes will be more on top of these changes and consequently more prepared when real issues arise. Many organizations are now dealing with the strategic risks of the long-term talent gap, which is why we're seeing more CAEs and auditors recognize this challenge."

[Accounting Today]

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