Cybersecurity, the number one risk for Australian executives: World Economic Forum

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum released its Global Risks Report which presented results of the 2022 Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) with an analysis of the key risks emanating from the current economic, societal, environmental and technological tensions.

The GRPS ranked “cybersecurity failure” among the top 10 risks that have worsened most since the start of the covid-19 pandemic. Australia had ranked it as the number one risk above climate action failure, extreme weather, infectious diseases and debt crises.


  • There is a growing digital dependency, exacerbated by remote working during the covid-19 pandemic.
  • In 2020, malware increased by 358% and ransomware increased by 435%, with a four-fold rise in the total cryptocurrency value received by ransomware addresses. Cryptocurrencies have allowed cybercriminals to collect payments with only a modest risk of detection or monetary clawback.
  • Sophisticated cyber tools are allowing cyberthreat actors to attack targets of choice more efficiently (rather than settling for targets of opportunity), leading to even higher financial, societal and reputational damage.
  • Undersupply of cyber professionals.
  • Increased security risk due to growing concerns that quantum computing could be powerful enough to break encryption keys, generally used to protect critical and sensitive financial and personal data.
  • The emergence of the metaverse could create new entry points for malware and data breaches and new forms of digital property (e.g. NFTs) could further entice criminal activity.
  • Even insuring against cybersecurity risks has become increasingly precarious, with insurers themselves facing retaliatory attacks for attempting to curb ransomware payments.
  • Geopolitical tensions around digital sovereignty hinder potential cross-border collaboration, with some governments refusing to regulate cyber intrusions that originate inside but impact outside their borders. According to the GRPS, “cross-border cyberattacks and misinformation” and “artificial intelligence” were among the areas with the least established or effective international risk mitigation efforts.

Steps to improve your cyber resilience

  • Cooperation between organisations can unlock best practices that can be replicated across industries and economies.
  • Focus on emerging technologies (e.g. blockchain, quantum, AI) and the modes of digital exchange they facilitate (e.g. metaverse) but also remain attentive to perennial concerns (e.g. cybercrime, ransomware attacks).
  • Upskill leaders on cybersecurity issues and elevate emerging cyber risks to board-level conversations.

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