Cybersecurity risk not to be underestimated

While climate changes remains a top concern globally, the possibility and impact of cybersecurity threats should not be misjudged, said John Drzik, chairman, Marsh & McLennan Insights at the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s press conference in London this week.

“In advanced economies cyber attacks continue as the number one risk in this year’s report. It obviously is a high concern for businesses,” he said. “I think that we underestimate the importance of technology risk, even though this year’s work had a centrepiece on climate [change].”

On January 13, the World Economic Forum published a report on the global risks predicted for 2020.

Cyber attacks ranked seventh globally in terms of likelihood of occurring over the next ten years.

In response to the growing risk of cyberattacks, the WEF set up a security centre two years ago. The centre focuses on policy developments and global cooperation.

But despite industry efforts, cybersecurity threats are set to rise, according to Mirek Dusek, deputy head of the centre for geopolitical and regional affairs, World Economic Forum.

“The trend is obvious, [cybersecurity breaches] are increasing. If you are a cyber professional, this is your bread and butter, and increasingly as you may know the wars for CEOs and also mainstream decision makers need to contend with is planning for cyber security emergencies.

“As we then exist more online, and there is more of our lives online, so more is at stake, one of the critical infrastructure pieces we got for that is healthcare data and healthcare systems, and we have already seen occurrences of breaches there,” he said.

Climate change was identified as the top long-term risk by those surveyed for the report – WEF’s “multistakeholder communities, the professional networks of its advisory board, and the members of the Institute of Risk Management.”

For Adrian Monck, WEF’s managing director, addressing cybersecurity concerns will help counter the effects of climate change.

“In the current context, you have to look at the climate crisis that we are facing, and I think that is by far the overwhelming crisis that we face,” said Monck on the side lines of the conference. “We need to cooperate to tackle it, and having a cyber domain that is not constantly in a state of war would be helpful.

“Cyber has become the underpinning for every single industry, for every single sector – not just financial – and so companies everywhere are now looking at this. There is a war for talent in dealing with it.”

Talking about the impact of climate change risk on the insurance industry, Peter Giger, chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group said it put doubt over the use of historical data.

“As an insurance company we use a lot of historic data for pricing, so as a risk officer I can no longer trust my history, and whether it has fundamentally changed how I look at the probability and severity of the events – that is a big challenge for our industry,” he said.

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