Cyber security one of top 5 world risks

The World Economic Forum meeting in Davos has identified cyber security as one of the top five risks in the world, but experts have cautioned against restricting the internet as a result.

Delegates at the conference heard that a new piece of malicious software is introduced every 30 seconds.

Over 2 million viruses, worms, back doors or Trojans have emerged over the past two years, and the threats are constantly growing. People used to hack computers for notoriety, and then as a criminal activity. Today, companies and nation-states are also behind cyber attacks, in the form of industrial and military espionage, respectively.

Attribution is a fundamental issue in addressing the problem, experts said. The biggest challenge is identifying who is behind a cyber attack and from where it comes, since cyber criminals are anonymous and operate without boundaries.

Experts noted that more international cooperation is needed to investigate cyber attacks and try to solve the attribution problem. With 4.5 billion users around the world, a sophisticated international framework may be one way to address the issue.

Rod A. Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), USA, said: “Everything attached to a network can be hacked and everything is being attached to a network.”

Collaboration is the key to addressing the ongoing arms race between cybercriminals and the corporations, lawmakers and governments who oppose them, Beckstrom said.

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, European Commission, Brussels, described her belief that the future economy is inherently coupled to the Internet, so much so that cyber risk should be added to standard corporate reporting.

However, the COO of social networking site Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, was one of those who noted that while security was paramount, there was still a need for a free and open internet platform. She said the internet and the social media had emerged as a major platform for freedom of speech.

Outlined at the event, a Partnership for Cyber Resilience highlighted key principles for cyber resilience, which were developed by Deloitte through multistakeholder dialogue across multiple regions and sectors.

In summary, the Principles are:

-Recognition of interdependence: All parties have a role in fostering a resilient shared digital space

-Role of leadership: Ensure executive-level awareness and leadership of cyber risk management

-Integrated risk management: Develop a practical and effective implementation programme

-Promote uptake: Where appropriate, encourage suppliers and customers to develop a similar level of awareness and commitment

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