Follow the leaders: How governments can combat intensifying cybersecurity risks

It is undoubtedly challenging to craft and execute a national cybersecurity strategy. Our research reveals common elements of successful strategies.

Against a backdrop of escalating geopolitical and geo-economic tensions, one of the biggest threats nations face today is from state-sponsored cyber warfare. From election interference to the alleged attempted theft of sensitive COVID-19 vaccine research to power-supply cutoffs for nearly a quarter-million people, state-sponsored cyberattacks are infiltrating the critical infrastructure of countries around the world.

Not just state actors but also nonstate actors today have more technical prowess, motivation, and financial resources than ever before to carry out disruptive attacks on a country’s critical infrastructure. Any attack on critical infrastructure in one sector of a country can lead to disruption in other sectors as well. An attack on a country’s telecommunications, for example, may disrupt electronic payments.

But this is just part of the problem. Today, individuals and businesses are more dependent than ever on digital connectivity in virtually every aspect of their existence. Most people cannot imagine going even a few hours without access to the internet. Globally, an estimated 127 new devices connect to the internet every second. Any disruption in digital connectivity is considered an obstacle in the path of progress.

Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, our dependence on all matters digital has increased dramatically. With remote working having become integral to our economies and the medical response, the rising dependence of citizens and businesses on everything digital is only going to continue.

With every new device, user, and business that connects to the internet, however, the threat of cyberattacks increases. If a government cannot provide secure and trusted digital connectivity, societies can’t prosper and economies won’t thrive.

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