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World Economic Forum: Cyber-Attacks Third Most Likely Global Risk in 2018

Cyber-attacks are the third most likely global risk for 2018, behind extreme weather conditions and natural disasters.

That’s according to findings from the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2018, launched at a press conference today in central London. 

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.

What that shows, as outlined in the latest report, is just how much cyber-risks have intensified, particularly in 2017, both in their prevalence and disruptive potential. Notable examples were the WannaCry attack, which affected 300,000 computers across 150 countries, and NotPetya, which caused quarterly losses of $300m for a number of impacted businesses.

Speaking at the press conference Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz, head of economic progress, World Economic Forum, said that cyber-risks are affecting society and the economy in “new, broader ways,” impacting not just the corporate sector but also government infrastructures, the geopolitical sphere and society in general.

John Drzik, president, Global Risk and Digital at Marsh, added that, looking forward, the “scale and sophistication of attacks is going to grow” as the cyber-exposure of businesses increases with the proliferation of interconnected devices, widening the attack surface. 

Therefore, there is a need for greater investment in cyber-risk management, he added, suggesting “we are still under resourced in the amount of effort put into trying to mitigate this risk.

“Cyber is at or above the scale of natural catastrophes [in terms of financial damage caused] and yet the comparative infrastructure is much smaller in scale.

“This is [also] an environment in which businesses could find a wide number of shocks,” and building resilience needs to be involved in any plans when exploring business opportunities.

In terms of how the Forum will respond to growing cyber-threats Richard Samans, member of the managing board, World Economic Forum, explained that at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland next week, the Forum will be launching a new public-private platform in the form of a Global Centre for Cybersecurity.

“Cyber-risk is rapidly emerging as a major headache in boardrooms of all sorts of institutions around the world,” he said. The new center for cybersecurity will, in co-operation with Interpol, be a “framework in which there will be a better opportunity for leaders of institutions across the public and private sectors to pool information on their intelligence and response capabilities to get ahead of the curve on a number of these risks.”

Lastly, the Forum has also issued a cyber-tool ‘best practice guidebook’ for boards of directors to ensure cyber-risks are on the agenda of boards going forward.

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