NAVEX Global has published the release of its 2017 Ethics & Compliance Third-Party Risk Management Benchmark Report. While concerns about third-party risk remain high – particularly regarding cyber security – more than half of organizations (58 percent) ranked their programs as maturing or advanced.

“We continue to see a move toward centralized and automated systems, which allow organizations to treat third parties the same way they treat their own employees with access to hotlines, training and policies,” said Randy Stephens, J.D., Vice President, NAVEX Global. “This is a smart approach, especially given the top concerns we see each year – even if some of those stated concerns fluctuate based on compliance failures in the headlines and shifting regulatory pressures.”

49 percent of respondents said cyber security and data protection was their top concern this year. This is the first time cyber security was the top concern in this annual report with a 10 percentage point increase from the 2016 survey. Bribery and corruption was the second most-common concern at 42 percent, ahead of conflicts of interest (the top choice in the 2016 survey) at 34 percent.

While survey respondents identified cyber security as the top concern overall, bribery and corruption was still the #1 issue among organizations with more than 5,000 employees and annual revenues of $1 billion or more. Bribery and corruption was also a greater concern among organizations where 20 percent or more of their annual revenue is related to or generated by their third parties.

Bribery and corruption was more of a concern in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (65 percent) and Asia-Pacific (64 percent) than it is in North America (32 percent). Conversely, North American organizations were far more concerned with cyber security (56 percent) than their counterparts in Europe the Middle East and Africa (39 percent) or Asia-Pacific (28 percent).

Other key findings include: