SC Magazine: Cyber-attack among World Economic Forum’s top global risks

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SC Magazine: Cyber-attack among World Economic Forum’s top global risks

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has listed cyber-security as one of the greatest threats to business around the world. In the Global Risks Report, the annual study of what the WEF fears and what the forum feels the world should fear, cyber-security has made its third appearance.

The category finds itself ranked fairly high, above food crises, interstate conflict, terrorist attacks and spread of infection diseases but below climate change, fiscal crises and mass migration.

In 140 economies, the report notes, cyber-attacks rank in the top ten threats. The United States is considered to have the most to be concerned about given  the effects cyber-threats can have on  the economy.

Economies increasingly reliant on connected technologies, like Asia and Europe, are predictably worried as well. It’s a concern that will only grow with those connections, the report notes: “As the Internet of Things leads to more connections between people and machines, cyber dependency – considered by survey respondents as the third most important global trend – will increase, raising the odds of a cyber-attack with potential cascading effects across the cyber ecosystem.”

As cyber-dependence rises, the report adds,  “the resulting interconnectivity and interdependence can diminish the ability of organisations to fully protect their entire enterprise.”

There are two particular areas of concern, the report says, that organisations often overlook: mobile internet and machine-to-machine connections.  The report says it is vital “to integrate physical and cyber management, strengthen resilience leadership and organisational and business processes, and leverage supporting technologies”.

While the report clearly states cyber-security as one of the main threats to economic stability going into 2016, worry has diminished since the category was first introduced into the annual report in 2012. Back then, cyber-security came 4th in the top five global threats in terms of likelihood, it disappeared from the ranking in 2013 and then came back at fifth place in 2014. It has not ranked in the top five most likely global threats since then.

This high estimation of cyber-threats, notes the report, may be down to the fact that large data breaches are finally creeping across newspaper headlines and into the public imagination as a more present danger, than it might have otherwise been. In fact, considering the global risk report is gathered from interviews, we might also say that this particular report is just as much a catalogue of global fears as it is actual global risks.

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