Security

Cyberattacks are third largest threat to global society over next 5 years

These attacks fell behind natural disasters and extreme weather in the World Economic Forum's 2018 Global Risks Report.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • The top five risks to global stability over the next five years are natural disasters, extreme weather, cyberattacks, data fraud, and failure to address climate change. — World Economic Forum, 2018
  • Cyberattacks are growing in risk as the potential fallout from an attack on connected industrial systems or critical infrastructure becomes a serious threat. — World Economic Forum, 2018

Cyberattacks are now the third-largest threat facing the world, following natural disasters and extreme weather, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2018, released Wednesday.

A World Economic Forum (WEF) executive summary said that cybersecurity risks have grown "both in their prevalence and in their disruptive potential." Some of the biggest risks, the report noted, were attacks against critical infrastructure and connected industrial systems—many of which can cause physical harm in the process. Some examples given in the report were WannaCry, Petya, and NotPetya.

"Geopolitical friction is contributing to a surge in the scale and sophistication of cyberattacks," John Drzik, president of Global Risk and Digital, Marsh, said in a press release. "At the same time cyber exposure is growing as firms are becoming more dependent on technology. While cyber risk management is improving, business and government need to invest far more in resilience efforts if we are to prevent the same bulging 'protection' gap between economic and insured losses that we see for natural catastrophes."

SEE: IT leader's guide to the threat of cyberwarfare (Tech Pro Research)

Specifically, the report labeled cyberattacks as their third-largest global threat that is most likely to happen in the next five years. This is important for CXOs to be aware of, as the executive summary noted attacks against businesses have almost doubled in the past five years, and they are growing in complexity.

The financial impact of such attacks is also growing. NotPetya, for example, caused losses of $300 million per quarter for some companies, the report said. And some 64% of all malicious emails contained ransomware—a form of malware that demands monetary payment for a release of encrypted data.

The pace at which businesses are being attacked also seems to be increasing. According to the European Aviation Safety Agency, cited in the report, aviation systems are attacked around 1,000 times a month, on average.

Many of these kinds of attacks aren't succeeding, the report stated, but increases in their pace and complexity are troubling. Additionally, as nation states begin to throw their weight behind cyberattacks, the threat of cyberwarfare becomes real.

Another cyber issue—data fraud— was listed at the fourth most likely threat, directly under cyberattacks. Billions of data records were leaked last year, more than the past two years combined, the report found.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/Gangis_Khan

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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