Miguel Perez is guest blogging for the Forum. He is a part of the Global Agenda Council Team and it attending the Annual Meeting in Davos.
I had a chance to follow the discussion on cybersecurity in Davos and it clearly seems to me that this issue remains a top concern for the business community. So what are the major trends in cybersecurity and how are participants proposing to tackle this issue?
Experts and business leaders all seem to agree that trophy hacking is a thing of the past; more important actors – organized crime, industries and nation states – are now investing a lot of resources and brainpower into what some define as a form of economic war. As the weaponization of the Internet gets under way, cybersecurity has become an arms race.
For business, the threat of confidential documents falling into the wrong hands can lead to blackmail, brand damage or loss of competitive advantage. As a participant noted, “Data has become an illicit commodity”. Individuals and companies might also become unintended targets of cyberwarfare – suffering from collateral damage in the same way that other forms of military conflict do.
Yet it is still widely believed that cybercrime doesn’t affect ordinary citizens. Cybersecurity is not only about technical solutions but also about changing people's awareness. “With the spread of Internet-capable mobile devices and laptops, people need to be aware of the basic hygiene mechanism to protect their data,” a participant said.
The Internet was built on an infrastructure that does not identify users. It is still easy to assume another identity. “Considering that we have driving licenses and identity cards in society, we need to come up with something similar for Internet use,” proposed one expert.
But are consumers willing to give up their privacy for the sake of security? As events in Tunisia and Egypt reveal, anonymity and lack of control make the Internet an important vehicle for political change. Can openness be part of the answer?
One of the many proposals heard in Davos is the creation of a community of like-minded actors that would focus on better information sharing on cyberthreats and new dangers. “The extremely rapid development of communication technologies and e-commerce makes it more important than ever to establish public and private partnerships; otherwise we will never be able to tackle cybercrime effectively,” one expert commented.