Davos: Geopolitical instability increases risk of ‘catastrophic cyberattack’

DAVOS: The risk of catastrophic cyberattacks is skyrocketing due to geopolitical instability, according to a report released Wednesday at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

More than 93% of cybersecurity experts and 86% of business leaders surveyed for the report believe that “a large-scale catastrophic cyber event is likely within the next two years” and that a critical skills shortage threatens businesses. companies as well as key infrastructures.

The 2023 edition of the report entitled “Global Cybersecurity Outlookis based on surveys, workshops and interviews with over three hundred experts and senior executives. Half of the companies surveyed said the current landscape is forcing them to re-evaluate the countries in which they do business.

Despite the challenges, organizations are improving cyber resilience, one of the top priorities of the World Economic Forum’s Center for Cybersecurity.

The report says awareness and preparedness would help organizations balance the value of new technologies against the cyber risk that comes with them.

He stresses the need to address the shortage of talent and expertise. 34% of cybersecurity experts say their team lacks certain skills, while 14% say they lack critical skills.

The problem is more pronounced in key industries, like energy utilities, where nearly 25% of cybersecurity experts surveyed report that they lack the skills to protect their organization’s operations.

According to the 2023 edition of the report Global Cybersecurity Outlookwhich was written in collaboration with Accenture, there is a need to expand the cybersecurity talent pool to address this issue.

Several effective cybersecurity skills programs are being implemented around the world, but many of them are struggling to be rolled out at scale. Greater interprofessional collaboration and public-private partnerships are needed to overcome this challenge.

Geopolitics is reshaping the legal, regulatory and technological environment. “As global instability increases cyber risk, this report calls for a renewed focus on cooperation,” said Jeremy Jurgens, chief executive of the World Economic Forum.

“All public and private sector actors who are responsible for our common digital infrastructure must work together to build security, resilience and trust,” he adds.

A press release from the World Economic Forum, which accompanied the launch of this report, highlighted the opinions of leading industry figures on a wide range of topics.

“The study shows that business leaders are now more aware of the cyber risks facing their companies. However, it is necessary to go further to assess the business risk and translate it into different steps to be implemented across the organization,” says Paolo Dal Cin, Global Head of Accenture Security.

“Long-term cyber resilience requires a tightly coordinated team effort across senior management to gain a clearer view of cyber risks so that security is integrated into all strategic business priorities and the digital core is protected. . As our world grows digitally connected, now is the time to build cyber-resilient businesses for customers, employees and supply chain partners.”

Commenting on the skills gap, Ken Xie, Chairman and CEO of Fortinet, notes that “the threat landscape continues to expand and evolve, with cyber adversaries targeting organizations of all sizes. , in all walks of life and in all industries around the world”.

He continues: “Disruption of operations or services and compromise of data due to cyberattacks in the context of a global skills gap puts every individual, every organization and even every nation at risk. When we work together to foster best practices, we see greater progress in the fight against cybercrime.”

“Data sharing and trusted global partnerships can result in more effective responses and help better predict future attack strategies to deter the adversary.”

Executives are now more likely than a year ago to view data privacy laws and cybersecurity regulations as an effective tool for reducing cyber risk in an industry. But speed is clearly an issue.

On regulation, Hoda al-Khzaimi, director of the Center for Cybersecurity and founder of Emartsec at New York University Abu Dhabi, says: “Normalization can take eighteen months, but a cyberattack only takes a few seconds. The speed at which emerging technologies are implemented often exceeds our ability to put security measures in place. For organizations to be cyber-resilient, we need to go beyond mere regulatory compliance.”

Emphasizing the importance of investing in cybersecurity, Nikesh Arora, CEO and President of Palo Alto Networks, says, “Cyberattackers aren’t content with macroeconomic challenges; they go into overdrive. There is no path to success that is not strongly driven by artificial intelligence and automation.”

“As enterprises accelerate their digital transition journey, now is the time to reinvent and invest in cybersecurity architectures – intelligent platforms. Boards and senior management must adopt a strategy in which cybersecurity is deeply integrated across the entire business, from operations to innovation. Only then can organizations create a state of resilience that promotes strategic business outcomes instead of hindering them.”

According to the 2023 edition of the report Global Cybersecurity Outlook, there is a persistent and delicate challenge: that of determining the price of cybersecurity. One person who took part in the survey believes that “Board members are interested in risk, opportunity, and investment in terms of cost.”

“We need to be able to better answer the following questions: what is the yield? How do I know if this is a good investment out of all the things I could potentially invest in? How can we improve the implementation of effective measures to help boards make more informed decisions?”

Cybersecurity also influences strategic business decisions. 50% of individuals who took part in the study admit that they take it into account when considering which countries to invest and do business in.

Compared to last year, the report finds that board-level leaders are more likely to prioritize cyber risk and are more aware of their role in addressing it. This leads to increased interaction with cybersecurity leaders as “cyber leaders, business leaders, and boards of directors now communicate more directly and more often.” However, one of the difficulties is that they “still don’t speak the same language”.

Too often, according to the report, when security and business leaders discuss cybersecurity, the rapidly changing forms of cyber risk become meaningless. Information security leaders are failing to turn the complex data they have collected – on risky situations, threat actors, criminal campaign mapping – into an accessible narrative that translates into remedial action. mitigation within their organizations.

Instead, they should tell stories that align with their business and entrepreneurial priorities. “Boards of directors must be offered a cybersecurity system that meets the expectations of customers and authorities and that contributes to meeting the challenges of the sectoral ecosystem”, indicates Christophe Blassiau, vice president of cybersecurity and global director information security at Schneider Electric.

Despite the importance of this challenge, the report Global Cybersecurity Outlook of 2023 reports that the problem of disconnection between cybersecurity leaders and business leaders is beginning to be resolved. Both parties increasingly perceive the high degree of risk exposure and are allocating more resources to coordinate responses effectively, he concludes, adding that the priority today is speed.

This text is the translation of an article published on Arabnews.com

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Davos: Geopolitical instability increases risk of ‘catastrophic cyberattack’


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