Security professionals fear cyber-attacks and warn ab0ut them every chance they get. Countries all over the world are trying to put up the best cyber defenses technology advancements can buy, but it does take a well established institution in the field of global economy to actually make us all tremble and finally believe cyber attacks pose a great threat to global stability.
The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risks for 2012 report places cyber-attacks against governments and businesses among the top five risks in the world to global stability, in terms of likelihood. Cyber-attacks come right after income disparity, fiscal imbalances, and the rising greenhouse gas emissions, shows the report released in WEF’s annual conference held in Davos, Switzerland.
The report put together by the WEF’s Risk Response Network is based on assessments of the tech industry which pointed out cyber-attacks as the biggest threat of all, as they can lead to devastating malfunctions in power plants, water supplies and other critical systems. The likelihood of such a globally debilitating attack is still up for debate, and other economic threats to global stability, such as income disparity, are far more pressing. WEF however believes we are not even close to understanding the risks posed to and handled by internet security.
Steve Wilson, chief risk officer for general insurance at Zurich and a member of the project, said: ”We don’t even really understand the risks yet.”
The old-news threat to tech experts is now becoming an issue making its way into all the political agendas that matter. The the report calls “urgently” for new mechanisms to get private investment into exploring system vulnerabilities. It also pointed out how information about cyber-attacks and cybercrime is hard to get to in an objective fashion:
Research into cyber threats against governments and the private sector has largely been funded by those who are in the business of selling internet security solutions – a potential bias that causes scepticism. Academic and policy papers are based largely on anecdotal case studies.
Vendors of online security products have an interest in talking up the threats of cybercrime, while victims of cybercrime often have an interest in remaining silent. It is therefore very difficult for firms and organisations to get a clear picture of the true levels of the risk and needs for investment. Correcting such information asymmetries should be at the centre of policies to improve global cyber security and to ensure an efficient market.
The full report is available online here.