WEF: Cyber Attacks are a Top Five Threat, Secure Systems Don't Exist

Paul Lilly

In case ending the work week on Friday the 13th wasn't enough of an ominous way to head into the weekend, consider this: for the first ever, the World Economic Forum (WEF) identified cyber attacks on governments and businesses as one of the top five global risks in terms of likelihood. In fact, it's the first time any kind of technology risk ranked in the top five.

The likelihood of a cyber attack ranked No. 4 overall, behind severe income disparity (No. 1), chronic fiscal imbalances (No. 2), and rising greenhouse gas emissions (No. 3), and ahead of a water supply crisis (No. 5). What's more, WEF points out there's really no such thing as a secure system, and at best there are just ones which haven't had their vulnerabilities exposed.

"There are no proven secure systems, only systems whose faults have not yet been discovered, so trying to overcome 'hackability' may be as hopeless as denying gravity," WEF stated in its Global Risks Report for 2012 (PDF) . "Instead, the goal should be finding ways for well-intentioned individuals to identify those faults and deploy remedies to end-users before would-be cyber criminals can discover and exploit them."

WEF says the levels of resources devoted to finding flaws and fixing them are "nowhere near adequate," though there are signs that some industries are beginning to the take the threat of cyber attacks a little more seriously than in recent years.

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