Published: Sun, January 21, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Cyber-Attacks Third Most Likely Global Risk in 2018

Cyber-Attacks Third Most Likely Global Risk in 2018

"What would be instructive is to hear from the new USA administration that it is interested and understands there are serious risks of the ilk we discuss in the report, and sees an important role for global cooperation", Richard Samans, a member of the WEF's managing board, said at a press conference when asked Trump's appearance at the event.

The report, which found environmental risks to be dominating the Global Risk Perception Survey for the second year running, said a deteriorating geopolitical landscape is partly to blame for the pessimistic outlook in 2018. But this is no longer the case.

It is the first time that cyber-attacks per se have made the Forum's top five global risks in terms of likelihood since 2014, with data fraud or theft also listed in fourth place this year.

"The scale and sophistication of attacks is going to grow and fuelled in part by geopolitical trends which could lead to more state-sponsored attacks, to add to the financially motivated attacks that are already out there", Drzik said. The WEF hopes the report will inspire debate and focus the minds of those present in Davos in collaborating on addressing these issues.

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'Beyond its financial cost, the WannaCry attack disrupted critical and strategic infrastructure across the world, including government ministries, railways, banks, telecommunications providers, energy companies, vehicle manufacturers and hospitals.

"At the same time as this increasing suite of attackers, you have cyber exposure growing for companies". The report specifically points to the accelerating use of cloud services, while IoT is expected to expand from an estimated 8.4 billion devices to a projected 20.4 billion devices in 2020.

Some of the largest cyber-related costs to business in 2017 related to ransomware attacks, such as WannaCry and NotPetya, which accounted for 64% of all malicious emails past year, the report said. NotPetya, for example, caused losses of $300 million per quarter for some companies, the report said.

The cost of cybercrime to businesses over the next five years is expected to rise to US$8tn, according to the WEF. He said cyber was relatively under resourced in risk management.

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Similarly, thousands of attacks every month on critical infrastructure from European aviation systems to US nuclear power stations show state-sponsored hackers are attempting to "trigger a breakdown in the systems that keep societies functioning", the WEF said. The impact of climate change also ranks as a top risk this year. Again, comparing to natural catastrophes, most businesses that are based in a Nat Cat prone zone have very extensive business continuity plans to respond to that type of emergency. "So by comparison, we are under-resourced". This is why collaboration and intelligence sharing should be at the core of the global response to reducing the risk of cyberattacks.

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Overall, the picture is not rosy - of the 1000 survey's respondents only seven percent said that risks would decline in 2018, whereas 59 percent predicted an increase.

A deteriorating geo-political landscape was partly blamed for the pessimistic outlook in 2018, with 93 per cent of respondents saying they expected political or economic confrontations between major powers to worsen and almost 80 per cent expecting an increase in risks associated with war involving major powers.

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A World Economic Forum (WEF) executive summary said that cybersecurity risks have grown "both in their prevalence and in their disruptive potential".

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