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Is cybersecurity finally on the CEO’s agenda? Part 1

April 16, 2018

Srini CR   

Chief Digital Officer

Kicking off each year, World Economic Forum (WEF) sets the tone for the year’s geopolitical and economic climate, with the aim of provoking thoughts and actions that improve the state of the world.

Last year, the theme for the event was ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership.’ Looking back at 2017, it was certainly a trying year for both political and business leaders. As politicians struggled to tackle the rise of state-sponsored hacking, business leaders continued to grapple with a huge increase in cybersecurity attacks.

This year, the theme reaffirms the need for cooperation to ‘Create a Shared Future in a Fractured World.’ Looking beyond the clear social implications of 2018’s fractured world, there is another force that brings both opportunities and risks for society: technology.

Technology presents extraordinary avenues to improve people’s lives, especially in emerging markets. However, there is a common threat underpinning each technological advancement in our lives which can be summed up in a word synonymous with fracture: hacking.

With GDPR coming into effect, and governing bodies across the world scrambling to create regulation that can accelerate at the same rate as technological innovation, will 2018 be the year that cybersecurity finally gets the attention it deserves?

‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’

 In recent years, the concept of ‘sharing’ has become problematic, especially when data is involved. The value of data to businesses has increased exponentially. Ginnie Rometty, CEO at IBM, wrote from Davos that data is now ‘key to competitive advantage.’ According to their research, only 20 percent of the world’s data is publicly searchable. The remaining 80 percent of this global data is sitting on private servers, the majority of which are owned by businesses. Sharing this data and pairing it with advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning could unlock all kinds of benefits for businesses and society.

However, as Ginnie points out, the flip side of a data-driven world is that there is more risk than ever before that personal data will be stolen. The result of this is that malicious third parties can use personal data to target individuals for cybercrime.

According to the WEF Risks Report, cybersecurity was cited as the third most likely risk facing the world according to the 1000 decision makers surveyed, with data fraud or theft sitting at number four. Looking at the report, these two issues are the most likely man-made events threatening today’s world, highlighting the very real threat that cyber-attack poses.

On the geopolitical stage, state-sponsored hacking has become an unnerving open secret, as the main weapon for destruction shifts from physical weapons to well-placed lines of code. A prime example of this is seen in the wake of large-scale cyber-attacks originating from North Korea, who most recently have been using a form of malware called FALLCHILL that infiltrates aerospace and telecom networks.

In part two of this blog, I will look at the how governments and businesses can appropriately deal with the scourge of cyber-criminals.

Read one of my previous blogs on cybersecurity trends in 2018.