Cybersecurity will be the most pressing challenge of the next decade. Inadequate management of cyber threats will put users increasingly at risk, undermine trust in the Internet and jeopardise its ability to act as a driver for economic and social innovation. Disproportionate government responses will threaten freedoms, and contribute to a climate of fear and uncertainty. The ISOC report on “Paths to Our Digital Future” released in 2017 brought attention to the fact that we need new models to increase cybersecurity readiness and reduce vulnerabilities but also to ensure end-user security. The complexity and scope of cyberattacks necessitates multi-stake holder and expertise-driven responses for the digital economy to thrive and for trust in the Internet to be rebuilt.
The scale of cyberattacks is steadily growing, and many anticipate the likelihood of catastrophic cyberattacks in the future.
As the Internet becomes intertwined with national security, cyber offense and defence strategies will shape the future Internet for industry and individual users alike. Acts of cyber conflict will be coupled with disinformation and propaganda to destabilise states and economies. The threat of destructive cyber conflict will only increase over the next decade. Conflicts will be initiated not only by nation states, but also by their surrogates, and by independent political movements and private actors. For the open Internet to continue as a platform for social and economic growth, users must be able to trust that the government agencies and businesses collecting and using their data are resilient and will address cybersecurity threats adequately.
Neither government nor the private sector can deal with the scope and scale of cyber threats alone. Driven by the need to be seen to be “doing something” in the face of ever-bolder cyberattacks, we expect that government responses to cybersecurity challenges will be increasingly reactive. Effective action and building network resilience towards cyber threats will only come through information sharing, strategic thinking and collaborative efforts among stakeholders.
The way stakeholders adapt to future cyberattacks could change the Internet from an open and collaborative Internet to a fragmented, closed but “secure” network environment.
The pressure to put “rules of the road” in place will continue, but it is unclear whether governments will prioritise cross-border cooperation over national sovereignty and security. Financial markets, elections and health care provision will not be immune to cyberattacks and cybercrime in the future.
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