International police agency secretary general Jurgen Stock has warned state-developed cyber weapons will become available on the dark net in a “couple of years”.
During a CNBC-moderated panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week, Stock commented that military-made cyber weapons could soon be up for grabs for organised crime cartels.
“That is a major concern in the physical world – weapons that are used on the battlefield and tomorrow will be used by organised crime groups.”
“The same applies for the digital weapons that, maybe today are used by the military, developed by military, and tomorrow will be available for criminals,” Stock added.
The topic of cyber war has long been a concern for global governments, but it has received renewed attention amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
According to Reuters reports, the US, the UK and European Union have formally blamed Russia for a large-scale cyber attack that disrupted Viasat’s satellite internet service an hour ahead of the 24 February assault.
In response, Ukraine has enlisted the help of volunteer hackers from around the world to help it defend against Russian aggression.
Stock called on business leaders to increase cooperation with governments and law enforcement authorities at the forum, to ensure more effective policing of cyber crime.
"On the one hand, we are aware of what's going on – on the other hand, we need the data, which are in the private sector.
“We need your [cyber breach] reports.
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“Without your reports, we are blind,” Stock urged.
The number of cyber attacks more than doubled globally in 2021, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Cybersecurity Outlook report. Ransomware remains the most popular type of attack, according to the report, with organisations being targeted 270 times a year on average.
A “huge number” of cyber attacks go unreported, according to Stock, which he emphasised is a gap that needed to be eliminated.
“That is a gap we need to close together, not just law enforcement that require that we build bridges between our silos, the islands of information,” Stock said.
Executives and government officials on the World Economic Forum panel agreed that cyber security incidents are putting critical energy infrastructure and supply chains at risk.
Robert Lee, CEO and co-founder of cyber security firm Dragos is actively turning businesses' attention to focus on real-world scenarios, like the Russian state-backed attack on Ukraine’s power grid in 2015 – instead of more hypothetical risks.
Ukraine fended off a similar attempt to compromise its energy infrastructure in April this year.
“Our problem is not needing 'next gen' AI, blockchain or whatever else.
“Our problem usually is just about rolling out with things that we’ve already invested in,” Lee said.