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Geopolitical instability increases risk of ‘catastrophic cyberattack’: WEF study

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

More than 93% of cybersecurity experts and 86% of business leaders, who were surveyed for the report, believe that “a large-scale catastrophic cyber event is likely within the next two years”, and that there is a critical lack of skills that threatens. key companies and infrastructure.

The “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” report is based on surveys, workshops and interviews with over 300 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 WEF 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 underscored the need to address the shortage of skilled talent and experts. 34% of cybersecurity experts said they lacked certain skills in their team, while 14% said they lacked essential skills.

The problem is most pronounced in key industries such as energy utilities, where nearly 25% of cybersecurity experts surveyed said they lacked the critical skills needed to protect their organization’s operations.

According to “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023”, which was written in collaboration with Accenture, there is a need to expand the cybersecurity talent pool to address this issue.

Several successful cybersecurity skills programs are underway around the world, but many are struggling to scale to large numbers. 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 WEF chief executive Jeremy Jurgens.

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

A WEF press release that accompanied the launch of “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” highlighted the views of leading industry figures on a range of topics.

“Research shows that business leaders are now more aware of their organization’s cyber risks. However, there is a need to go further in assessing and translating business risk into actionable next steps across the organization,” said Paolo Dal Cin, Global Head of Accenture Security.

“Long-term cyber resilience requires a tightly coordinated team effort across the C-suite to gain a clearer view of cyber risks so that security can be integrated into all strategic business priorities and protect the digital heart As our digitally connected world grows, 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, said, “The threat landscape continues to expand and evolve with cyber adversaries targeting organizations of all sizes, from all places and all industries around the world.

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

“Data sharing and trusted global partnerships can enable more effective responses and better predict future attack strategies to deter adversary efforts.”

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 the issue of regulation, Hoda Al-Khzaimi, Director of the Center for Cybersecurity and Founder and Director of Emartsec at New York University, Abu Dhabi, said: “Normalization may take 18 months, but a cyber attack does not only takes a few seconds. The speed at which emerging technologies are implemented often exceeds our ability to build security measures around them. We must go beyond mere regulatory compliance if organizations are to be cyber-resilient. »

Underscoring the importance of investing in cybersecurity, Nikesh Arora, CEO and President of Palo Alto Networks, said, “Cyber ​​attackers don’t rest on macroeconomic challenges, they double down on them. There is no path to success that is not heavily driven by AI and automation.

“As enterprises accelerate their digital transformation journey, now is the time to reinvent and invest in cybersecurity architectures — intelligent platforms —. Boards of directors and the C-suite must adopt a strategy in which cybersecurity is deeply integrated throughout the entire company, from operations to innovation. Only then can organizations create a state of resilience that enables, not inhibits, their strategic business outcomes.

According to the “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” report, a persistent and vexing challenge is determining the price of cybersecurity. He quoted a survey respondent as saying, “Board members are interested in risk, opportunity and cost investment.

“We need to better answer the question(s), what is the yield? How do I know this is a good investment out of the myriad of things I could potentially be invested in? How can we improve the creation of effective metrics to help boards make more informed decisions? »

Cybersecurity also influences strategic business decisions, with 50% of survey participants saying it was a consideration when evaluating which countries to invest in and do business in.

Compared to last year, the report found that board-level leaders are more likely to prioritize cyber risk and are more aware of their own role in addressing it. This has led to increased interaction with cybersecurity leaders, “cyber leaders, business leaders and boards are now communicating more directly and more often.” The bad news is that they “continue to speak different languages”.

Too often, according to the report, when security and business leaders discuss cybersecurity, the rapidly changing contours of cyber risks get lost in translation. Information security managers may fail to convey the complex data they have collected – on risk points, threat actors, mapping of criminal campaigns – into an accessible story that translates into action. specific mitigation measures in their organizations.

Instead, they should tell stories that align with their corporate and business priorities. “Boards of directors must be offered a cyber posture that resonates with the expectations of customers and authorities and contributes to meeting the challenges of the sector ecosystem,” said Christophe Blassiau, senior vice president of cybersecurity and director Global Information Security at Schneider Electric.

Despite this challenge, “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” reports that the disconnect between cybersecurity leaders and business leaders has begun to close. Both increasingly perceive the high degree of risk exposure and allocate more resources to coordinate responses effectively, he said, adding that the priority today is speed.


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