Cyber attack risk highlighted in global risks report

In a recent risk report, cyber attacks were ranked as a major concern by US and European business leaders.

The 11th edition of the World Economic Forum’s The Global Risks Report 2016 draws attention to ways that global risks could evolve and interact in the next decade. In this year’s annual survey, almost 750 experts assessed 29 separate global risks for both impact and likelihood over a 10-year time horizon.

Cyber security ranked amongst climate change and involuntary migration

The risk of cyber attack is in 11th position in both likelihood and impact, and the greatest potential impact in 2016 was found to be a failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation. This is the first time since the report was published in 2006 that an environmental risk has topped the ranking.

Other key risks highlighted by the report include weapons of mass destruction (2nd), water crises (3rd), large-scale involuntary migration(4th) and severe energy price shock (5th).

Cyber security is being underestimated

Speaking at a press conference, John Drzik, President, Global Risk and Specialties noted that there is significant disparity in geography when it comes to assessing the risk of cyber attack.

“Cyber attacks are considered the highest risk for doing business in the US and it is in the top 10 in Europe and Japan, whereas it didn’t featured at all in some parts of the world,” he said.

Cyber attack risk highlighted by World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report

Drzik added that 90% of spend on cyber attack insurance is spend is in the US, but as 90% of risk is not in the US this shows that the risk is being underestimated.

“Cyber attacks are boundary-less,” he said.

Cyber attack is part of modern warfare

Also speaking at the press conference, Espen Barth Eide, Head of Geopolitical Affairs at the World Economic Forum, stated that as the modern world continuous to revolve around interconnectivity and the internet, the risk of cyber attacks becomes more real.

“It’s opening us up to a fragility that we’re only just beginning to grasp,” he said.

Along with physical weaponry and nuclear arms, it is predicted that cyber attacks will play an increasingly important role in geopolitical conflicts.

The Global Risks Report 2016 states that: “The internet has opened a new frontier in warfare: everything is networked and anything networked can be hacked…Every future conflict will have a cyber element, and some may be fought entirely in cyberspace.”

About The Global Risks Report 2016

The Global Risks Report 2016 has been developed with the support of Strategic Partners Marsh & McLennan Companies and Zurich Insurance Group. The report also benefited from the collaboration of its academic advisers: the Oxford Martin School (University of Oxford), the National University of Singapore, the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center (University of Pennsylvania), and the Advisory Board of the Global Risks Report 2016.


Written by Cecilia Rehn.