Sara Verbruggen

Freelance journalist

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Experienced freelance B2B journalist and editor, specialising in fields of renewable energy, energy storage, smart grids and nanotech.
January 30, 2018

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GLOBAL SECURITY THREATS

Extreme weather, cyber-attacks and nuclear war top WEF’s list of threats in 2018

The world is a more dangerous place in 2018 than it has been for some time, the latest Global Risks Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) suggests.

Nuclear war, cyber-attacks and environmental disasters resulting from extreme weather are seen as the biggest threats to global stability in 2018 by the business and political elite.

WEF’s survey polled one thousand international leaders from business, government, education and service groups and was released in advance of the forum’s meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Extreme weather and correlated natural disasters, widely believed to be a result of human-created climate change, topped the most significant risks facing the world for a second year in a row.

Unsurprisingly nuclear war has shot up the list, following events last year when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered tests of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, drawing President Trump’s unusually – for a US president – bellicose response.

An overwhelming majority – 93% – of the one thousand respondents expect a worsening of “political or economic confrontations/frictions between major powers”. Nearly 80% think risks associated with “state-on-state military conflict or incursion” and “regional conflicts drawing in major powers” are greater than in years past.

Although in previous years respondents to WEF’s survey have tended to be optimistic about technological risks, this year concerns jumped, with cyber-attacks and massive data fraud both appearing in the list of the top five global risks by perceived likelihood.

Attacks are increasing, both in frequency and disruptive potential.

Cyber breaches recorded by businesses have almost doubled in five years, from 68 per business in 2012 to 130 per business in 2017. Cyberattacks around the world have unpicked vulnerabilities in vital sectors and infrastructure from hospitals to power stations.

North American business leaders count cyber-attacks, along with terrorism, asset bubbles, fiscal crises and failure to adapt to the impact of global warming as the biggest risks when surveyed.

“Humanity has become remarkably adept at understanding how to mitigate conventional risks that can be relatively easily isolated,” the report said. “But we are much less competent when it comes to dealing with complex risks in the interconnected systems that underpin our world, such as organizations, economies, societies and the environment.”

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The cyber attack affects the people more than other things as it operated by computer and now everything is done with the help of the computer.

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