Countries that fail to implement an effective cyber security policy will face isolation.
A report by Deloitte has claimed that it is time for governments to tackle cyber security, as cyber culture is growing faster than cyber security and therefore everything that depends on cyberspace is at risk.
The report, that explored the views of leading security experts, many of whom had senior roles in government, the military or the security services, found that private data, intellectual property, infrastructure and even military and national security can be compromised by deliberate attacks, inadvertent security lapses and the inherent vulnerabilities of the internet.
It also found that governments must cooperate to set up uniform standards of protection around the world, and partner with the private sector because most of the world's online infrastructure is in corporate hands.
Cyber security should also strike the right balance between security and civil liberties, educate and involve citizens to make them aware of the threats, and provide positive inducements to dissuade future cybercriminals.
The report claimed that those who do not keep up with cyber security may not maintain a trusted relationship with their counterparts and, as a result, might find themselves isolated in an increasingly interdependent global economy, which may give rise to a new cyber protectionism.
Greg Pellegrino, Deloitte global public sector industry leader and co-author of the point of view, said: “Governments must treat cyber security – and the changes in habits and lifestyle that go with it – as ‘whens', not ‘ifs'. There's no question that we need to live with this. There's no way back.”
Steve Cummings, former director of the UK Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure and now a special adviser to Deloitte's enterprise risk services division, said: “The lack of effective cyber security not only threatens the gains made possible by information technology, but other elements of life that are now under internet control.
“Much energy has been focused on the improvements to governance and the economic and social advantages that a digital world can enable. Now, we must refine the focus – on what a secure digital world can enable, because an unsecured internet is worse than none at all.
“Advice on the many elements of cyber security is easy to come by. But putting the pieces together requires a master vision that goes beyond technology and process. Governments must find that vision and act now to ensure the continued safety and security of our digital economy, our governments and citizens. The stakes are high but the risks are even higher: isolation, cyber protectionism and an inadequate balance between security and civil liberties.”