A united front W

ith the rise of the Industry 4.0 and The Fourth Industrial Revolution, as well as the unprecedented technological change that comes with it, global business has colossal opportunities in its hands. AI is allowing labour-intensive tasks to be performed with unprecedented speed and efficiency, and the connectivity that enables the Internet of Things (IoT) has allowed data gathering on customers and provides previously unimaginable levels of insight into their behaviour. Yet, as the world becomes increasingly reliant on digital technologies, the threats it faces are becoming virtual as well as physical. In other words, crime is moving online. According to data from the World Economic Forum (WEF), attacks on IoT devices rose by 300% in 2019. Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, has warned business to be alert to the rise in cyberattacks during 2020, and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that during 2019, online confidence fraud costs US citizens more than $475m in losses.

Cybercrime is one of the greatest threats to businesses and individuals, with cybersecurity becoming increasingly at risk since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Jim Banks speaks to Jeremy Jurgens, managing director of the WEF and head of its Centre for Cybersecurity, to fi nd out how the world can respond.

In late 2020, the WEF’s Future Series: Cybercrime 2025, a joint programme of work with the University of Oxford, found that unless drastic action is taken now, by 2025 next-generation technology could potentially overwhelm the defences of the global security community. “We started working on cybersecurity in 2012, before the concept of Industry 4.0 had emerged,” explains Jeremy Jurgens, managing director of the WEF, who also oversees its Centre for Cybersecurity. “Back then, the risk was poorly understood by most actors in business and government.” “Now,” continues Jurgens, “the risk is moving faster than policy frameworks can, so we wanted to address the systemic nature of the risk through an impartial global platform, which the WEF is well- placed to provide. Most initiatives are national or industry-focused, but we can bridge the gap between cybersecurity experts and policymakers.”

The pandemic piles on the pressure It is no longer possible to rely on the fragmented approach to cybersecurity that has emerged over recent years, in which companies and states organise their own response to digital threats. With so much at stake in a world where our work, our wealth and our identity increasingly exist online, a much more proactive strategy is needed to keep up with cybercriminals. That’s especially true over last year, with the spread of Covid-19.

A problem, of course, is that working from home is often less secure than when you’re safely behind the


Finance Director Europe /


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