World Economic Forum outlines cyber risks of tomorrow

The future of the cyber security industry and the security of everyone’s personal data will hinge on managing four technologies and trends, according to a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The WEF conducted a 14-month study with the University of Oxford to examine how shifts in technology will impact the cyber security industry, based on the input of over 100 leaders in the cyber security community spanning businesses, governments, academia and civil society.

While COVID-19 has led to an acceleration of cyber attacks targeting those working from home, hospital systems and financial institutions, the next wave of cyber security risks will not be a continuation of these challenges, said the WEF, and incremental progress will not be enough to stop them.

The WEF said: “Industry leaders say we are at a watershed moment as cyber space dynamics evolve. Quantum computing, artificial intelligence, digital identity and the ubiquitous connectivity of devices and networks pose a critical risk to the hyperconnected global economy, as criminals of the future shift the attacker-defender balance by exploiting these technologies.”

Managing the risks, said the organisation, will require businesses and governments to address three things: filling capability gaps with new cyber security tools, creating policy interventions that incentivise collaboration and accountability, and galvanising leadership action from businesses to plan more strategically around emerging risks so the most critical infrastructures do not fail society.

Will Dixon, cyber security lead at the World Economic Forum, said: “Broadly speaking, we have been doing cyber security the same way for the past 15 years and it’s not going to work any more. What has changed is that criminals of the future can easily exploit these emerging technologies and our growing interconnectivity at a scale not seen before.

“The good news is that there are ways to protect our personal data, mitigate the impact on global trade and security and ensure our society isn’t hit with another shock. To tackle the threats of tomorrow, companies and countries need to expand their security capacity, this means jobs, and a lot of them," he added.

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