Cybersecurity threats among top geopolitical risks of 2021: Report

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Cyber Crime
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Cybersecurity threats and greater restrictions in global data flows have been considered as one of the 10 top geopolitical risks in 2021, US-based political risk consultancy Eurasia Group revealed in its latest report.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 and restrictions related to it, more people stayed online and worked remotely which increased their exposure to cyber-attacks and 2021 will witness unexpected technological and geopolitical risks due to cyber conflicts, the consultancy stated in its report.

“Hundreds of millions of people will continue to work, shop, receive an education and socialize from home in 2021 and much of these activity uses less secure home computers and connections, giving bad actors more vulnerabilities to exploit,” the report warned.

As per the data revealed by the research firm Mordor Intelligence, by 2025 the value of the cybersecurity market will reach up to $363.05 billion, which is almost 125 percent more than the amount spent last year. Over the next five years, the market is projected to expand at an annual growth rate of 14.5 percent.

The report further added that 2021 will see a widespread roll-out of fifth-generation technology and the expanded surface area of vulnerability created by more connected devices and online activity will create a perfect playground for cybercriminals.

“There is no broadly accepted industry standard for ensuring low-cost, commodity devices are secure and regularly updated to protect against hacking,” it added.

Even though the risks began with the US and China, it won’t end there, as governments globally become increasingly concerned about who is accessing their citizens’ data, Eurasia Group stated.

The outgoing US administration’s attempts to ban the popular Chinese smartphone apps TikTok and WeChat, along with India’s moves to blacklist various Chinese apps. When the world’s biggest economy and its most populous democracy try to ban apps over security concerns, it encourages other countries to do the same.

“Authorities around the world have become increasingly preoccupied that their citizens’ personal data could fall into the hands of adversaries who could use it to improve their AI algorithms, influence public opinion, or commit blackmail.”

Others in the list

The geopolitical risk listed by the group includes a divided US, climate change, the ongoing US-China trade dispute, the lasting effects of COVID-19 and the effects of low oil prices on countries in the Middle East.

The renewable energy sphere could move from an area of global cooperation to competition, as the US competes with China directly in clean technology sectors such as batteries and power control systems, the report added.

Although this year started with positive news on COVID-19 vaccines, the pandemic will leave a legacy of high debt, displaced workers and lost trust, it said.

Energy-producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa faced a collapse in global energy demand in 2020 and the prices are likely to remain low this year also, the report said.