Cyber-warfare is one of the top five risks that could adversely affect businesses in 2020, according to Control Risks, a London based global risk and strategic consulting firm specialising in political, security and integrity risks.
An advanced and sophisticated level of cyber-warfare, fractious geopolitics due to the election year in the US and a rising tide of global activism are some of the other major risks that companies will have to face next year.
Global tensions have been rising due to cyber weapons becoming more capable and a noticeable reduction in the restraint shown by most countries on curbing cyber-based activities. Leaders without a strategy on how to deal with the rising global crisis also add to the security risks of businesses, the report said.
Additionally, the growing interconnectivity of cyber-physical systems due to the rise of the internet of things and other technologies will also form a crucial factor that has exponentially increased the risk for a full-blown cyberwar in 2020.
The report pointed out to a few state-sponsored instances of cyber warfare that act like glimpses of what is yet to come.
The stuxnet incident from 2010 was one such instance where a cyber-worm was responsible for substantial damage to Iran’s nuclear program. Media reports later stated that the worm was allegedly built by the National Security Agency in partnership with the Central Intelligence Agency and Israeli intelligence in the mid-2000s.
Ever since Stuxnet, governments of several countries have set out to build, acquire and test digital capabilities. Control Risks said that the quest for these weapons will become more aggressive in 2020.
The US, under the Barack Obama administration, and China had agreed in 2015 through the Obama-Xi agreement to curb commercial espionage between the two countries. The move was hailed as a major step towards cyber diplomacy.
However, a confrontational US policy under current US President Donald Trump as well as the US Cyber Command undertaking cyber-attacks on Russia, North Korea and Iran to target military databases, internet infrastructures and troll farms between 2017 and 2019 seems to have undermined the diplomatic efforts.
Control Risks said that the US, Russia and Iran are set to resume disruptive cyber operations. New players like India and Pakistan are likely to emerge in the digital war arena as they have been projecting their conflict in the cybersphere. Meanwhile, countries such as South Korea, France, Germany, Japan and Saudi Arabia are likely to prepare in case of any escalations in the cybersphere.
India is all set to prepare a security strategy of its own to counter emerging threats.
The country will now make its own National Cyber Security Strategy for 2020 ( NCSS 2020) in what is seen as a reaction to the Israeli firm NSO group’s alleged WhatsApp hack. Social media giant Facebook owns the chat app, which has some 400 million users in the country.
“The present cyber threat landscape poses significant challenges due to rapid technological developments such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, internet of things, 5G, etc,” said the statement on the NCSS website.