Cyberattacks among top global business concerns: World Economic Forum

Cyberattacks jumped to fifth place — up from eighth last year — among global business leaders’ top concerns, according to a new report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

“We can see signs of how vulnerable many of the complex systems that make up our world are: from the environmental to the financial and the societal to the geopolitical, the signs of strain are evident,” wrote Mirek Dušek, deputy head for regional and geopolitical affairs, and a member of the World Economic Forum’s executive committee.

The WEF has surveyed business executives about global risk since 2006, but 2018’s Regional Risks for Doing Business report was the first attempt to hone in on local issues by world region. The organization surveyed 12,000 business executives across the world to produce the study and each participant was asked to select their top five risks from a list of 30.

In three major world regions — Europe, North America, and East Asia — cyberattacks topped the ranking, and made fifth-place overall across the globe. The report noted that cyberattack concerns dominated in advanced economics, with 14 of the 19 countries that ranked such attacks number one being in Europe or North America; the others were India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. The report’s writers chalked this up to high-profile cyberattacks in 2017 such as WannaCry and NotPetya, which both caused considerable financial damage and made headlines for weeks. Equifax also suffered a major attack in 2017 which affected 147.9 million consumers, the firm said at the time. The WEF report notes businesses will see 2017 as the year that “... the world began to take seriously the potential extent of our vulnerability to cyberattack disruptions.”

Cyberattacks cause billions in damage every year. A 2017 CBS News report pegged WannaCry’s
total damage at $4 billion. Consulting firm Accenture estimates that cybersecurity costs rose 22.7 percent from 2016 to 2017 and that organizations now spend roughly $11 million each on protecting their information systems. The firm also noted that the average cost of a malware attack on a company is $2.4 million.

Other business threats noted in the WEF survey include unemployment or underemployment (no. 1 world-wide), failure of national governance (no. 2), and the possibility of an energy price shock (no. 3). Terrorist attacks made the list only barely, coming in tenth.


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