In the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Global Risks Report 2019, cyber attacks and data breaches are ranked as the fourth and fifth most likely global risks, right behind extreme weather events, climate change, and natural disasters,

The WEF report is based on the results of a survey conducted with close to 1,000 experts and decision makers. ZDNet reports, “82 percent of those surveyed believe there’s an increased risk of cyberattacks leading to the theft of money and data, and 80 percent believe there’s an increased risk of cyberattacks leading to the disruption of operations.”

Of particular concern was the risk to critical infrastructure. For example, in the past year, several incidents were reported that revealed nation-state hackers had successfully infiltrated US utility companies.

According to CNBC, the new report by WEF says, “The world is facing the increased risk of political confrontations between major powers, which is hindering solutions to challenges like climate change and cyberattacks.”

A cyber attack of significant proportions could not only undermine governance and organization, but it could also put lives at risk. With our dependency on computers and mobile devices for banking, healthcare and transportation, it’s not hard to imagine the chaos that could ensue. A disruption to the transportation system, for example, could leave people trapped in subways, or create a cascade of vehicle accidents due to traffic light outages.

As more devices come online and IoT continues to expand, the threat rises—as does the risk of a domino effect. The Global Risks Report cautions that putting off action until later can lead to serious consequences.

Quoting John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at Marsh, ZDNet writes, “Persistent underfunding of critical infrastructure worldwide is hampering economic progress, leaving businesses and communities more vulnerable both to cyberattacks and natural catastrophes, and failing to make the most of technological innovation.”

Get the full story at ZDNet.