2024 Munich Security Report: G7 countries rank cyberattacks second only to extreme weather

The report’ s findings showcase a heightened awareness of cyberthreats amid technological advancements.

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The Munich Security Report 2024, released prior to the Munich Security Conference, indicates that G7 nations consider cyberattacks as their second most significant threat, following extreme weather events. The report, an annual publication summarising security policy matters, highlights a growing concern regarding cyberattack risks, with the perceived threat reaching its peak. At the same time, cyberattacks rank as the top concern in both China and the USA.

The Munich Security Index (MSI) shows an increase in the perceived threat of cyberattacks, climbing five places compared to the previous year. Valentin Weber, a research fellow at DGAP, suggests that cyber risks, along with climate risks, consistently maintain high rankings due to their systemic nature. Unlike transient crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, cyber threats are enduring challenges that policymakers must address continuously.

However, Jörn Müller-Quade, head of the research group ‘Cryptography and Security’ at KIT and director at FZI, cautions that survey results reflecting public risk perception can be influenced by media coverage. He explains that sensational cyber incidents before the survey could inflate perceived risks.

The report further also notes that the increasing exploitation of technological advancements by global powers, particularly in strategic sectors like semiconductors and AI, threatens to fragment the tech industry and incur welfare losses. Despite the need for global regulations on AI and data security, these efforts are at risk of being overshadowed by the securitisation of technology.

Rather than enhancing the open and rules-based international order to fulfil its promised mutual benefits, the current trend is moving in the opposite direction, the report’s authors note. Transatlantic partners and like-minded states are facing a challenging balance between investing in defence and deterrence while selectively engaging in mutually beneficial endeavours with politically aligned states. However, this approach risks creating a cycle of unequal outcomes and limiting positive-sum cooperation to a smaller group of nations.

Concluding, the authors highlight it’s crucial that these adjustments don’t undermine efforts to strengthen partnerships with countries in the Global South and reform the existing international order to benefit a broader global audience. Yet, achieving this in an election year, where cooperation among democracies may face additional strains, presents significant challenges. There’s a genuine risk that many countries could find themselves in a lose-lose scenario, where success is measured by who suffers less rather than who gains more.