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This week politicians, business leaders, academics and civic leaders will meet in Davos, Switzerland at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF).

Ahead of the meeting, the World Economic Forum has released its Global Risk Report, highlighting the biggest risks to stability facing us over the next 10 years.

Cyber Security is risky business

The WEF report highlights cyber security as one of the biggest impacts on global volatility. The report provides a stark warning on the damage that cyber attacks and digital warfare could have on global stability.

The economic impact of cyber crime

Should a major cloud provider be breached, it is estimated that such an attack could cost anywhere between undefined billion and undefined billion, which is the financial equivalent of Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina.

Cyber attacks against businesses have doubled in the past 5 years, and in 2017 several major ransomware attacks were launched. WannaCry spread through 150 countries affecting 300,000 computers and NotPetya cost some businesses upwards of US$300 million. 64% of all malicious emails contained Ransomware (between Jul-Sep 2017) effectively doubling the number of businesses affected by ransomware compared to 2016.

IoT increases the number of targets

The rise of devices connected to the internet (IoT) is expected to rise from around 8.4 billion devices in 2017 to a projected 20.4 billion devices in 2020. Flooding both the consumer and business markets with connected devices gives cyber criminals more points of access to our sensitive data and log-in details.

Political warfare goes digital

But it is not just businesses that are being targeted, and the World Economic Forum report discusses the use of cyber attacks to destabilise societal structures, financial systems and infrastructure such as rail networks or the NHS. State-sponsored political cyber warfare has already being used by agents in North Korea and Russia, and could be used more widely over the next decade as geopolitical trends change.

Environmental Extremes Still Post The Biggest Risk To Global Stability

Leading the fray of risks to global stability are environmental risks; an increase in natural disasters and extreme weather instances, higher temperatures and levels of CO2. The World Economic Forum calls for a return to multilateral efforts to combat the damaging effects of pollution and global warming instead of the nation-state unilateralism that we have seen in 2017.

Other factors covered in the WEF report include inequality and unfairness, particularly highlighting wealth disparity and gender discrimination. Polarisation of political viewpoints and identity politics is also discussed in the report as potential indicators of conflict over the coming years.


Date published: 23/01/2018

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