World Economic Forum Cyber Risks Report

The World Economic Forum meets in Davos this week following release of its Global Risks Report 2019, against a backdrop of very worrying geopolitical and geo-economic tensions. If unresolved, these tensions will hinder the world’s ability to deal with a growing range of collective challenges, from the mounting evidence of environmental degradation to the increasing disruptions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This year’s report includes another series of “what-if” Future Shocks that examine quantum computing, weather manipulation, monetary populism, emotionally responsive artificial intelligence and other potential risks. 

Concerns about data fraud and cyber-attacks were prominent again in the GRPS, which also highlighted a number of other technological vulnerabilities: around two-thirds of respondents expect the risks associated with fake news and identity theft to increase in 2019, while three-fifths said the same about loss of privacy to companies and governments. 

There were further massive data breaches in 2018, new hardware weaknesses were revealed, and research pointed to the potential uses of artificial intelligence to engineer more potent cyber- attacks. Last year also provided further evidence that cyber-attacks pose risks to critical infrastructure, prompting countries to strengthen their screening of cross-border partnerships on national security grounds. 

Each year the Global Risks Report works with experts and decision-makers across the world to identify and analyse the most pressing risks that the globe faces. 

One place where many of these issues come together is cyber-risk. 
Cyberattacks are perceived as the global risk of highest concern to business leaders in advanced economies. 
Cyber is also viewed by the wider risk community as the risk most likely to intensify in 2019.
As the pace of change accelerates, and as risk interconnections deepen, this year’s report highlights the growing strain we are placing on many of the global systems we rely on.

Exposure to risks from cyber is growing as firms become more dependent on technology. 
The explosive growth of interconnected devices expands the size of the surface open to cyber-attack for organisations, and the number of interconnected devices in the world is expected to jump from 8.4 billion today to 20 billion in 2020. 

Increased use of artificial intelligence in business processes also heightens exposure to cyber-risks.
The Global Risks Report is published at a time of encouraging headline global growth. Any breathing space this offers to leaders should not be squandered: the urgency of facing up to systemic challenges has intensified over the past year amid proliferating signs of uncertainty, instability and fragility. 

This year’s report covers more risks than ever, but focuses in particular on four key areas: environmental degradation, cybersecurity breaches, economic strains and geopolitical tensions. In a new series called “Future Shocks” the report cautions against complacency and highlights the need to prepare for sudden and dramatic disruptions.

The report also presents the results of WEF's latest Global Risks Perception Survey, in which nearly 1,000 experts and decision-makers assess the likelihood and impact of 30 global risks over a 10-year horizon. Over this medium-term period, environmental and cyber risks predominate. 

WEF:      Global Risks Report 2018:

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