Cybersecurity is a top global 'risk to watch', says Davos confab

In its Global Risks 2011 report, the World Economic Forum said that “awareness is growing that the real world is vulnerable to security threats from the virtual world, but the complexity of ‘cybersecurity’ issues is still not well understood and its risk could be underestimated.”

The report identified four cyber activities that pose global risks: cyber theft, cyber espionage, cyber war, and cyber terrorism.

The report noted that cyber theft “has become a growing industry with a long tail, particularly in countries where economic disparity has recently been combined with access to global communications technologies.”

Cyber esponiage, which brings age-old spying techniques to the cyber world, has been on the rise in recent years. “Particularly insidious, as has repeatedly been shown in the past two decades, is the use of such techniques not only by countries generally understood as enemies but also by friendly allies”, the report said.

Little understood by the general public, cyber war has “stirred controversy among civilian and military leaders. While an open war in cyber space is possible, experts indicate that the interplay between cyber war and physical war poses a more likely risk for society, with aggression online not only serving but also potentially provoking conventional attacks”, the reported warned.

Fueling concerns about national vulnerabilities, cyber terrorism has gained notoriety in recent years. Terrorists regular use the internet for communication, recruitment and propaganda. “However, these practices do not in themselves indicate any capacity for large-scale cyber terrorist attacks, and it should be noted that terrorist use of the Internet equally allows law enforcement agencies to gather valuable intelligence”, it said.

The Global Risks 2011 report concluded that “understanding the range of negative consequences is central to managing effective risk response. The pervasiveness of the internet and importance of related technologies to everyday life and business means that should a major disruption occur, it is likely to have high impact globally.”

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?