Cybersecurity and the call for more action
By Constantine Passaris.
Recently, I was invited by the Society of Greek Scientists to speak at their first international virtual conference on “Cyber Security and the New 21st Century Global Economy”. Today, cybersecurity is a priority for individuals, civil society, businesses, financial institutions and governments at all levels.
The Greek Scientist Society was founded two years ago by Theo Zacharis in the UK. It serves as an intellectual center for Greeks in the Diaspora as well as their compatriots in Greece and Cyprus. Current members of the society include scholars, intellectuals, scientists, technologists, industrialists, entrepreneurs and a myriad of other professionals who reside on five continents.
My presentation reminded the audience of the incredible technological innovations that are available to civil society, businesses and governments. At the same time, we face huge cyber threats that we face on a daily basis. In my opinion, cyber-vulnerability is the contemporary Achilles heel of humanity.
The rise of the new global economy of the 21st century has highlighted the importance of cybersecurity for social and economic institutions. He underscored the urgency of dealing with cyber threats in order to protect individuals, civil society, businesses, financial companies and governments.
The new global economy of the 21st century has precipitated transformational technological change. Never in human history has the pace of structural change been so rapid and profound. The signature of the new economy is new ideas, new technologies and new directions.
At the same time, cyber insecurity poses the greatest threat to mankind as it reaps the rewards of immense technological advancements and reaps the economic benefits of scientific breakthroughs.
The new global economy rests on three pillars. These are internetization, trade liberalization and the information technology revolution. Internetization is a new word and concept that I have introduced into the economic lexicon. It describes the empowerment of the new global economy through global reach and electronic connectivity. Indeed, internetization is globalization on steroids. Second, free trade has deepened global economic integration and broadened the economic architecture. Third, the computer revolution has made geography and time irrelevant. All of these pillars of the new economy are supported by a virtually borderless world with tremendous capacity for electronic connectivity.
The first three decades of the 21st century have recorded a cataclysmic trifecta. Starting with the global financial crisis of 2008 which hit most financial institutions hard. Followed by the prolonged Great Recession which led to a sharp decline in economic growth accompanied by high levels of unemployment. In the third decade, COVID-19 created a global tsunami of economic devastation.
What do these three cataclysmic events have in common? They are global in nature and driven by digital connectivity. It is undeniable that internetization has revolutionized our personal lives and the functioning of contemporary businesses. It redefined the new global ecosystem.
Indeed, 95% of our social and economic existence in the 21st century happens online. As such, we are significantly exposed and vulnerable to cyberattacks and malfeasance. These disruptive forces drive up costs, impede progress, and diminish the full realization of humanity’s ambitions.
As a result, cybersecurity has become the dominant conversation of the third decade of the 21st century. The reason is that malicious cyber intrusions can prevent mankind from progressing in reaping the benefits of the current wave of technological innovations.
Increasingly, the age of internetization has precipitated an accelerating speed of constant change and the emergence of enhanced automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The rapid, extensive and diverse array of electronic innovations is setting off cybersecurity alarms that reveal our high level of exposure to digital risk.
In conclusion, the paradigm of the wealth of nations is no longer limited to the resources under our feet but depends on the gray matter between our ears. Accordingly, we must embrace internetization as our ally in the progress of mankind, but we must be vigilant against cyber threats, protect our institutions against cyber threats, and build the appropriate firewalls. Moreover, we must usher in a new era of collaborative multilateralism among all nations that will purposefully solve our contemporary economic, social, digital and environmental challenges.
Let us therefore resolve to embrace the need for urgent action on cybersecurity and create a safer and more resilient path to the continued progress and prosperity of humanity. Constantine Passaris is a professor of economics at the University of New Brunswick, an affiliate member of the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity and an Onassis Foundation Fellow.