Cyberattacks Almost as Impactful as Natural Disasters: WEF

Cyberattacks Almost as Impactful as Natural Disasters WEF

Cyberattacks, as per a recent report by the WEF (World Economic Forum), are almost as disastrous for the already-struggling economies as are natural disasters.

The WEF Global Risks Report 2019, released recently, has flagged cyberattacks, data fraud and critical infrastructure breakdown among the year’s most significant causative risks. The report, which presents a detailed analysis of societal risks, underscores the critical importance of cybersecurity. It says that cyberattacks, which are almost as likely as natural disasters are, would have an impact that’s similar to water crisis, on the global level.

As per the WEF Global Risks Report 2019, cyberattacks pose lesser risk compared only to extreme weather events, natural disasters, water crises, biodiversity loss and our failure to mitigate climate change. Data fraud or data theft, though slightly more likely than cyberattacks, is actually a bit less impactful.

CSO Online reports, “Based on the opinions of nearly 1000 global decision-makers, the WEF Global Risks Report 2019 also flagged quantum computing and “emotionally responsive” artificial intelligence as key disruptors but flagged cybersecurity risk as a major and likely issue for already-struggling economies around the world.”

The CSO report further says, analyzing the WEF Global Risks Report 2019- “Cyberattacks were linked to trends such as increasing national sentiment, the increasing polarisation of societies, shifting power, and rising income and wealth disparity…They were connected to a range of risks including the failure of critical infrastructure, critical information infrastructure breakdown, terrorist attacks, profound social instability, interstate conflict, failure of national governance, and the adverse consequences of technological advances.”

The Global Risks Report is based on the WEF’s annual GRPS (Global Risks Perceptions Survey), which covers around 1,000 members of WEF’s multistakeholder communities. The executive summary for the Global Risks Report 2019 observes, “Technology continues to play a profound role in shaping the global risks landscape. Concerns about data fraud and cyber-attacks were prominent again in the GRPS, which also highlighted a number of other technological vulnerabilities: around two-thirds of respondents expect the risks associated with fake news and identity theft to increase in 2019, while three-fifths said the same about loss of privacy to companies and governments. There were further massive data breaches in 2018, new hardware weaknesses were revealed, and research pointed to the potential uses of artificial intelligence to engineer more potent cyberattacks. Last year also provided further evidence that cyber-attacks pose risks to critical infrastructure, prompting countries to strengthen their screening of cross-border partnerships on national security grounds.”

82 percent of those covered in the survey felt that 2019 would see increased risks around the theft of money and data and 80 percent expected cyberattacks to cause disruption of operations and infrastructure. Almost 60 percent expected that 2019 would witness increasing loss of privacy to companies and governments and 69 percent expected to see a rise in risks associated with fake news. Another issue that bothered many was identity theft; 64% of respondents felt there would be an increase in identity theft in 2019.

The report’s findings prove that the world is now aware of the risks that cyberattacks pose to the overall digital economy and to our way of life itself. It also shows that many recent attacks (WannaCry, Equifax etc) have had a considerable impact on our global psyche and we have started taking into account the frequency of cyberattacks and the risk they pose.


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