The pandemiccrisis has revealed an increasing number of cyber attacks. As the digital environment evolves, so are cybersecurity risks. Interventions are needed now if integrity and trust in emerging technologies are to be maintained, as the world’s global growth depends on them.
The implications of this technology “coming-of-age” is the focus of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s latest Future Series Report on cybersecurity, emerging technology and systemic risk, and conducted with the University of Oxford.
Gathering views from a range of experts in the field, the report examines four technologies that will transform the global digital landscape in the next five to 10 years and the risks they bring. These include ubiquitous connectivity; artificial intelligence (AI); quantum computing; and next- generation approaches to identity management.
It aimed at answering one question: “Will our individual and collective approach to managing cyber risks be sustainable in the face of the major technology trends taking place in the near future?”
The work concluded that, while progress has been made in improving cybersecurity across the ecosystem, the increased complexity, pace, scale of technological changes will overwhelm many current defences.
Will Dixon, WEF head of future networks and technology, said: :
“Broadly speaking, we have been doing cybersecurity the same way for the past 15 years and it’s not going to work anymore. What has changed is that now, the criminals of the future can easily exploit these emerging technologies and our growing interconnectivity at a scale not seen before. The good news is that there are ways to protect our personal data, mitigate the impact on global trade and security and ensure our society isn’t hit with another shock.”
The report conclusions. The WEF identifies three key areas that need to be addressed to keep up the pace with emerging technologies
Systemic risks: they are hidden and inherent to the technology environment. This implies a radical change to the international and security community response to cybersecurity issues, with needed collaboration and accountability on both private and public sectors.
Capability gaps: they are part of the current operational cybersecurity approaches and must be addressed with adapted new tools and a better understanding. This means higher standards of care in technology service delivery.
Leadership action: leaders need to be able to plan more strategically for emerging risks and prevent critical consequences for society as a whole.
Future jobs. Cybersecurity threats to society can be avoided if coordinated action is taken by the security and technology community, industry and government leaders and the international community, the report states. Capabilities must be renewed and adapted bycreating new jobs. There is a growing demand for cybersecurity and information security specialists, as measures are taken by the companies. Dixon concludes:
“There is a growing cyber capability gap. To tackle the threats of tomorrow, companies and countries need to expand their capacity, this means jobs, and a lot of them.”