UPDATED 21:54 EDT / JANUARY 20 2021

SECURITY

World Economic Forum pegs cybersecurity failure as a major global risk

Cybersecurity failure presents a major risk facing the world this year and well beyond, according to the Global Risks Landscape 2021 report published by the World Economic Forum.

Although infectious diseases, in particular the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic topped the “clear and present dangers” short-term risk (up to two years) chart, cybersecurity failure ranked fourth in a poll among WEF members. “Knock-on effects,” medium-term risks (three to five years) saw cybersecurity rank in eighth place.

“Business, government and household cybersecurity infrastructure and/or measures are outstripped or rendered obsolete by increasingly sophisticated and frequent cybercrimes, resulting in economic disruption, financial loss, geopolitical tensions and/or social instability” the report notes.

The report also argues that rapid digitalization also has exponentially increased companies’ cybersecurity exposures and created more complex and potentially less secure networks. The report argues that a monumental shift to digitization could also create potential catastrophic risks on a longer horizon, including exposing businesses to unforeseen financial and ethical risks.

“As our world becomes increasingly intertwined with network-connected devices and services the threat of significant disruption due to cyber-attack grows ever more substantial,” Chris Clements, vice president of solutions architecture at IT service management company Cerberus Cyber Sentinel Corp., told SiliconANGLE. “Cybercrime remains a lucrative business. Criminal gangs extort millions of dollars from their victims and in addition to funding lavish lifestyles for the members provide ample budget for developing powerful hacking tools and purchasing zero-day exploits. ”

Against such sophisticated threats, the vast majority of defenders don’t stand a chance, Clements added. “It’s often shocking to the security professionals tasked with protecting an organization and its data just how easy it is to bypass or defeat security controls like antivirus or how fast attackers can crack passwords,” he said.

Javvad Malik, security awareness advocate at security awareness training company KnowBe4 Inc., noted that as technology has engulfed every aspect of life and society, it is no surprise that cybersecurity failure is viewed as a clear and present danger.

“Collectively, it is important that a culture of cybersecurity is embedded globally from manufacturers, to designers, to resellers, implementers and users,” Malik said. “Cybersecurity should not be for the privileged few, and neither should it require so much user interaction that it becomes overlooked. Only then will we begin to see changes which are needed to address some of these most pressing issues.”

Photo: WEF/Wikimedia Commons

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