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Global risks report

Humanity has become remarkably adept at understanding how to mitigate conventional risks that can be relatively easily isolated and managed with standard risk-management approaches. But we are much less competent when it comes to dealing with complex risks in the interconnected systems, says the Global Risks Report by the Davos-based World Economic Forum (WEF).

Cybersecurity risks are growing, in their prevalence and disruptive potential. Attacks against businesses have almost doubled in five years, and incidents that would once have been considered extraordinary are becoming more and more commonplace. The financial impact of cyber-security breaches is rising, and some of the largest costs in 2017 related to ransomware attacks, which accounted for 64 per cent of all malicious emails. Notable examples included the WannaCry attack—which affected 300,000 computers across 150 countries — and NotPetya, which caused quarterly losses of US$300m for a number of affected businesses. Another growing trend is the use of cyber attacks to target critical infrastructure and strategic industrial sectors, raising fears that, in a worst-case scenario, attackers could trigger a breakdown in systems.

For the downloadable 80-page report in full visit

It includes ‘Resilience in complex organisations‘. Also covered are biodiversity loss, geopolitical tensions, and the risk of another financial crisis erupting. A new “Future Shocks” section highlights the importance of being prepared not just for familiar slow-burn risks, but for dramatic disruptions that can cause rapid and irreversible deterioration in systems.


Duncan Tait, EMEIA and Americas CEO at Fujitsu, said: “It’s clear that rapid technological change is causing enormous shockwaves, and its disruptive impact on the world of business is already being seen: for instance, in the increasing risk and potency of cyberattacks. But there’s another side to the story – the human one – as technology begins to fundamentally change our lives, at home and at work. As a business community, we must engage with the challenges, as well as the opportunities, that this presents. In fact, our own research reveals that 84pc of global business leaders are in favour of a co-ordinated global response to prepare for change, led by intergovernmental bodies and governments.

“Our Timeline 2030 report has examined the likely impact of technological change and suggests that the world is on the brink of a new digital paradigm. We are at a crossroads: we have the choice to take action now and use technology to take us on a path to prosperity, or otherwise face the consequences. In every major challenge that we face, we need to take a coordinated and considered approach to the role of technology. In the short term, that means a laser focus on issues including data security and privacy, so that we can reap the benefits of resources like big data. Over the coming decades, timely and co-ordinated action across global governments, business, education and society as a whole will ensure that we have the right leadership, skills and workforce to embrace change and prosper. We must ensure that as technology advances, it is to the benefit of everyone.”

James Longworth, Head of Solution Architecture at Insight UK, said: “The new WEF’s Global Risks Report 2018 confirmed once again that the threat of cyber-attacks is the modern times’ sword of Damocles – always on the back of everyone’s minds. The numerous attacks from last year proved that the nature of cyber threats is constantly evolving and no organisation, be it big or small, can afford to be complacent.

“With the added context of the cost of suffering cyber-attacks set to rise, it was surprising to see in our recent survey of UK business leaders that only 38pc said improving cyber security is a priority for their IT investment.

“Ultimately, we are rapidly moving towards an age dominated by connectivity and smart devices – with the Internet of Things swiftly becoming as widespread as radio or TV – giving cyber criminals an exponentially increasing amount of devices to target. This is the time businesses stop hiding behind optimism bias, and instead start improving their cyber risk management and invest in resilience efforts.”

Joseph Carson, Chief Security Scientist at Thycotic said: “Many industries are going through what is deemed as the fourth industrial revolution. With the maritime industry shifting to advanced technologies to help drive smart and intelligent shipping, these provide very exciting and innovative opportunities and are the biggest advance in maritime operations since the advent of the steam engine. Yet these technology advancements do bring major concerns in terms of cyber dependency and the major concern of cyber risks and threats. Cyber-attacks are increasing and have become a global concern as many systems and devices that run critical infrastructure and decision making are now connected through the worldwide web commonly known as IoT. This means that devices like web cameras and critical systems such as power stations are all connected.

“Public and private companies have become more vulnerable to cyber-attacks as established IT security controls are now failing to protect the current systems. Many companies are not moving quickly enough to new technologies, often because of cost and time constraints. As a result, cyber-attacks have been deemed one of the greatest threat and concern to eight global economies – the USA, Germany, Estonia, Japan, Holland, Switzerland, Singapore and Malaysia. This means that it is highly important that cyber-attacks become an urgent boardroom debate; they are no longer an IT problem, but a whole company problem and everyone is now responsible for cybersecurity. Cyber risks put the regulatory frameworks under pressure as they to adapt to these new high frequency and high risk economic threats.”

And Kirill Kasavchenko, Principal Security Technologist, EMEA, NETSCOUT Arbor, said: ““Cyberattacks being ranked as the third most likely global risk should come as a warning to businesses and governments across the world. As technology advances, so too do the associated risks. With infrastructure and business shifting to the digital sphere, it has never been more important to mitigate against cyber threats.

“Cybercrime can be a lucrative source of income so, until cyber threats are contained on a global level, hackers will continue to hold organisations to ransom and disrupt critical industries. This is why collaboration and intelligence sharing should be at the core of the global response to reducing the risk of cyberattacks.

“Intelligence sharing can help organisations improve their detection and containment capabilities, so they can better prepare for an attack on their systems. To achieve maximum impact, it is critical that this involves intelligence agencies, cyber researchers and businesses.”


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