Cyberattacks are biggest risk, companies say
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Cyberattacks are biggest risk, companies say


Geneva, Switzerland – November 12, 2018

Reliance on the internet and connected services means the potential damage from cyberattacks is one of the biggest risks for businesses in Europe, Asia, and North America, according to a new survey of executives by the World Economic Forum (WEF)

The report, which included responses from more than 12,000 business leaders from 140 countries, found companies fear hackers will threaten their businesses over the next ten years. 

The concern over cyberattacks has been growing in the last two years following a string of high profile attacks on companies such as BA, Ticketmaster, and HSBC.

Experts also cite two major events as examples of the damage and disruption which can be caused: the WannaCry attack, which affected 300,000 computers in 150 countries and impacted infrastructure across the globe including the UK's NHS, and Petya, which caused losses of over $300 million to a number of organizations.

But that's relatively low-level compared with what could be achieved should cyberattackers—whether backed by a nation or an organized criminal gang—focus more of their attention on industry and critical infrastructure.

“In a worst-case scenario, attackers could trigger a breakdown in the systems that keep societies functioning,” warns the report.

“Cyberattacks are seen as the number one risk for doing business in markets that account for 50pc of global GDP,” said Lori Bailey, a member of the WEF’s Global Future Council on Cyber-security.

“This strongly suggests that governments and businesses need to strengthen cyber security and resilience in order to maintain confidence in a highly connected digital economy.”

When WEF conducted the survey last year, cyberattacks was the top risk in only two regions, East Asia and the Pacific and North America. In 2016, only North America was concerned by the risks.

The report found the top five risks for European businesses were cyberattacks, asset bubbles, the failure of national governance, the failure of financial mechanisms or institutions, and finally, unemployment or underemployment. 

Other than cyberattacks, North American executives did not share the same fears as European executives. North American chiefs’ top fears also included data fraud or theft, extreme weather events, fiscal crises, and energy price shocks. 

The findings of the Regional Risks for Doing Business report came after business leaders were asked to choose their top five risks from a list of thirty, including terrorist attacks, extreme weather events, and state collapse or crisis. The WEF report split the world into eight regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eurasia, East Asia and the Pacific, and South Asia.

The findings come after a number of cyberattacks hit the world’s biggest businesses in the last 12 months. They included an attack on Facebook, which exposed the phone numbers and personal details of 30 million users in September. 

Last year's Global Risks Report warned of the potential threat posed by insecure Internet of Things devices and a year of IoT-related security incidents hasn't done anything to dampen the threat, with hackers increasingly turning their attention to these devices as a potential backdoor into networks.

“Cybercriminals have an exponentially increasing number of potential targets, because the use of cloud services continues to accelerate and the Internet of Things is expected to expand from an estimated 8.4 billion devices in 2017 to a projected 20.4 billion in 2020,” says the report, adding: “What would once have been considered large-scale cyberattacks are now becoming normal.”

Looking to the future, the report warns about the possibility of “war without rules” if state-on-state conflict escalates unpredictably due to the absence of cyberwarfare rules—potentially leading to miscalculations and a fog of uncertainty which could lead to attacks and retaliations that spread and cause damage to unintended targets.

Author: USA Really