It's hard to imagine our modern world functioning without high powered computers, complex computer networks and a reliable connection to the internet, but the list of cybersecurity threats are on the rise as we rely more heavily on computers and the internet.
The threat of computer failure, breaches of cybersecurity, global cyberwars, and other cyber-related events may seem daunting, however, a new study suggests that few single cyber-related events could cause "global shock" and send the world into chaos.
A study on "Reducing Systemic Cybersecurity Risk" written by Dr Peter Sommer from the London School of Economics and Dr Ian Brown from Oxford University found that the possibility of a "true cyberwar" was unlikely, even given our reliance on connected computers.
The report on "Reducing Systemic Cybersecurity Risk" was part of a larger project on "Future Global Shocks" conducted by OECD (The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), an international organisation that helps governments "tackle the economic, social and governance changes of a globalised economy."
Catastrophic single cyber-related events such as a "successful attack on one of the underlying technical protocols upon which the Internet depends, such as the Border Gateway Protocol which determines routing between Internet Service Providers and a very large-scale solar flare which physically destroys key communications components such as satellites, cellular base stations and switches" are some of the few threats that, on their own, could cause global shock said OECD in its January 14 report.
While the world will face many breaches of cybersecurity in the coming years related to malware, distributed denial of service, espionage, and the actions of criminals, recreational hackers and hacktivists, most of these events will be "relatively localised and short-term in impact."
However, cyberattacks that combine zero-day exploits, internet connected computers and prolonged attacks that are able to produce new attack vectors as existing attacks are thwarted could have a debilitating effect on global computer and information infrastructures.