Widening disparities, growing threats cloud global cybersecurity

The Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2024, a collaborative effort between the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Accenture, unveiled a comprehensive overview of the challenges confronting the cybersecurity landscape on Thursday.
The report highlights not only the conventional concerns of heightened geopolitical tensions and economic instability but also sheds light on emerging threats, such as cyber inequity and the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI).
Drawing insights from industry experts and global executives, the report underscores the urgent need for collaborative efforts across borders and industries to tackle the evolving and interconnected threats in the rapidly growing cybersecurity sector.
Jeremy Jurgens, Managing Director of the WEF, emphasised the necessity for coordinated action to address the intricate challenges arising from the evolution of the cyber realm in response to emerging technologies and shifting geopolitical and economic trends. The report urges public-private stakeholders to work together to counter these interconnected threats and build a secure digital future.
One prominent risk identified in the report is the widening gap between cyber-resilient organisations and those struggling, marking a 30% decrease in the number of organisations maintaining minimum viable cyber resilience compared to the previous year.
While larger organisations exhibit significant gains, small and medium-sized companies face notable declines. Contributing factors include macroeconomic trends, industry regulation, and the early adoption of transformative technology by some organisations.
No one completely safe
Additionally, the widening cyber skills and talent shortage poses a substantial challenge, with only 15% of organisations optimistic about improvement in cyber skills and education over the next two years.
The report emphasises that in an interconnected world, this growing divide leaves no organisation completely safe. External partners, while valuable, also present significant challenges, as 41% of organisations experiencing material incidents attribute them to third-party involvement.
Artificial intelligence emerges as a key trend, with fewer than one in 10 respondents believing that generative AI will favour defenders over attackers in the next two years. Approximately half of the experts surveyed anticipate that generative AI will have the most significant impact on cybersecurity during this period.
Concerns revolve around the potential exacerbation of long-standing challenges, with half of executives expressing apprehension about the AI-driven advances in cybercriminal capabilities, including phishing, malware, and deepfakes.
Despite these challenges, the report notes an encouraging increase in global focus on cybersecurity, particularly at the executive and CEO levels. Cyber resilience is increasingly integrated into organisational risk management, signalling a positive shift.
Paolo Dal Cin, Global Lead at Accenture Security, underscored the importance of a collaborative C-suite team that communicates and collaborates closely on security priorities, embedding security into all strategic business priorities and relationships with third parties, vendors, and suppliers.