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Empirical Evidence on the Determinants of Cybersecurity Investments in Private Sector Firms

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ABSTRACT: Investments in cybersecurity are critical to the national and economic security of a nation. There is, however, a strong tendency for firms in the private sector to underinvest in cybersecurity activities. This paper reports the results of a survey designed to empirically assess whether treating cybersecurity as an important component of a firm’s internal control system for financial reporting purposes serves as a driver for private sector firms to invest in cybersecurity activities. The findings, in this regard, are significantly positive. The study also shows that a firm’s concern over the risk of incurring a large loss due to a cybersecurity breach and the degree the firm treats cybersecurity investments as generating a competitive advantage are drivers of the level of private sector investment in cybersecurity activities. The implications of the empirical results for designing public policies to mitigate the tendency of private sector firms to underinvest in cybersecurity are also explored.

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