Cost of cybercrimes to hit $1.2 trillion next year

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The total cost of cybercrimes globally will hit $6 trillion by 2021 from $1.2 trillion in 2017, an expert said in Abu Dhabi.

David Young, chief executive officer of Oxford Analytica, an independent geopolitical analysis and advisory firm, said that global industry sector is most vulnerable to cyberattacks.

“Hackers have been more dynamic, quick to adapt technologies than organisations,” he said, during a session on global economic outlook.

Hacking, he said, is a very ‘attractive industry’ with the direct and immediate financial returns.

Elaborating on cybersecurity and the findings of surveys and reports, Young said that ransomware will become a major problem this year.

Ransomware attacks grew by 118 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, with threat actors now actively advertising their access to organisations on the ‘dark web’. The roll-out of 5G this year will introduce new vulnerabilities as 5G’s flexible networks are open and programmable – making them targets for malicious actors.

Young said that industries should invest in not just reacting to attacks, but also have systems in place to protect against attacks.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised the world growth forecast to 3.3 per cent from 3.4 per cent, but Young said that even three per cent is seen as ‘desirable’ this year.

Young noted there will be subdued growth with impact from prolonged slowdown in India, elections in the US, increasing political unrests, and debt crisis.

He noted that the IMF’s growth outlook the GCC states at 2.7 per cent is ‘somewhat optimistic’ and the region, due to geopolitical situations, will at the best grow at around 2 per cent.

“The (IMF) forecast is based on assumptions, pre conditions like Oman’s new gas field, Expo 2020 Dubai and 2022 Fifa World Cup. However, we look at these pre-conditions and existing situation in the region, especially developments between the US and Iran,” Young said.

“The positive thing for the region is that 2020 will be better than 2019. Diversification from oil and gas is the key,” Young said and added that Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit for this year is 6.5 per cent of GDP due to dip in oil revenues. “The hope is that they have made massive investments in diversification.”

He noted the big turnaround for the UAE and the region will be post Expo 2020. “The Expo 2020 will attract new businesses, talent, new industries and investments to the country. There will be some short time gains but the UAE will reap the benefits of the Expo 2020 next year and beyond.”