Technology continues to play a profound role in shaping the global risks landscape for individuals, governments and businesses. Data and privacy concerns remain at the top of the list in the 2019 Global Risks Report

“Massive data fraud and theft” was ranked the number four global risk by likelihood over a 10-year horizon, with “cyberattacks” at number five. 

Major findings include:

  • A large majority of respondents expected increased risks in 2019 of cyber-attacks leading to theft of money and data (82 percent) and disruption of operations (80 percent).
  •  Around two-thirds of respondents expect the risks associated with fake news and identity theft to increase in 2019, while three-fifths said the same about loss of privacy to companies and governments. 
  • Malicious cyber-attacks and lax cybersecurity protocols again led to massive breaches of personal information in 2018. The largest was in India, where the government ID database, Aadhaar, reportedly suffered multiple breaches that potentially compromised the records of all 1.1 billion registered citizens. It was reported in January that criminals were selling access to the database at a rate of 500 rupees for 10 minutes, while in March a leak at a state-owned utility company allowed anyone to download names and ID numbers.
  • Personal data breaches affected around 150 million users of the MyFitnessPal application,35 and around 50 million Facebook users. 
  • Machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more sophisticated and prevalent, with growing potential to amplify existing risks or create new ones, particularly as the Internet of Things connects billions of devices. Research cited includes the Brookings report where 32 percent of respondents said they view AI as a threat to humanity, while only 24 percentdo not. IBM's report where it was revealed targeted AI malware can “hide” a well-known threat—WannaCry— in a video-conferencing application, activating only when it recognizes the face of the intended target.