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April 29, 2022updated 03 May 2022 11:16am

Filings buzz in the aerospace and defence sector: 21% decrease in cybersecurity mentions in Q4 of 2021

We've analysed companies' annual reports and other filings to see which key issues are receiving the most attention.

By Data Journalism Team

Mentions of cybersecurity within the filings of companies in the aerospace and defence sector fell 21% between the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to cybersecurity during 2021 was 60% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData, from whom our data for this article is taken, first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.

When companies in the aerospace and defence sector publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Cybersecurity is one of these topics - companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether cybersecurity is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of companies in the aerospace and defence sector, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies which have mentioned cybersecurity at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 92% compared to 84% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to cybersecurity.

Of the 20 biggest employers in the aerospace and defence sector, Thales was the company which referred to cybersecurity the most during 2021. GlobalData identified 201 cybersecurity-related sentences in the France-based company's filings - 1.4% of all sentences. Leidos mentioned cybersecurity the second most - the issue was referred to in 1.2% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high cybersecurity mentions included Leonardo, Lockheed Martin and Howmet.

Across all companies in the aerospace and defence sector the filing published in the fourth quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on cybersecurity came from Woodward. Of the document's 1,493 sentences, seven (0.5%) referred to cybersecurity.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on cybersecurity and how important the issue is considered within the aerospace and defence sector, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning cybersecurity more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into cybersecurity have been successes or failures.

GlobalData also categorises cybersecurity mentions by a series of subthemes. Of these subthemes, the most commonly referred to topic in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 'data security', which made up 45% of all cybersecurity subtheme mentions by companies in the aerospace and defence sector.

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