The Weaponization of Cyberspace: How National Interests are Fragmenting Global Networks in 2023

 In 2023, the weaponization of cyberspace and the clash of national interests will lead to the breakdown of global networks into regional or even national architectures. As digitalization continues at a rapid pace, with estimates indicating that over 60% of the world's GDP will be digitalized by 2023, the ecosystem supporting it, cyberspace, is undergoing significant transformation. While technology investments increase across the board, the principles and assets governing cyberspace are eroding.

Top Risks 2023: Cyber infographic

The cyber arms race will accelerate in 2023, enabled by an expanded attack surface and a significant increase in automation across the spectrum of cyber threats. All threat actors are prioritizing the development of their capabilities, and the potential for real physical damage is at an all-time high as IT and OT (operational technology) networks converge. Governments and industry advisories focused on industrial control systems (ICS) have increased in recent years, and their successful exploitation by states and criminal groups is growing at an alarming rate.

In parallel to this weaponization, states are looking to exert more control over what some have already defined as their national cyberspace. In 2023, more than 75% of the world's population will be covered by at least one data privacy regulation. Combined with sanctions on specific technologies or vendors, the illusion of a truly global cyberspace is fading. The next iteration of states' intervention in 2023 and beyond will primarily focus on restricting which technologies can be used in their cyberspace.

The consequences of these two phenomena on organizations are existential. Network and system resilience will be tested like never before in 2023. The proliferation of vulnerabilities, connectivity, and threat actors targeting current and emerging technologies will challenge even the most advanced cyber security teams. Cloud services, operational technologies, and IT service providers will continue to face the most critical threats from states, criminals, and activists in 2023. The prospect of data and system integrity risks is also a concern. While organizations look to automation and AI as business enablers and security controls, threat actors have already begun weaponizing these tools and will increase their focus on them.

The ambition of operating a single global network for multinational organizations will be significantly challenged. While in recent years many attempted to centralize their operations and simplify their digital supply chains, the reality of nationalism in cyberspace will reverse many of these efforts. Compliance and political considerations will force organizations to build at best regional, at worst national networks within their own business. Ultimately, the digital organization of tomorrow will be a fragmented one. The key to avoiding the death of global networks will increasingly be decentralization - reversing the prevailing trend towards centralization to gain efficiencies and control. Beyond 2023, decentralized digital environments will provide greater agility, security, and resilience to those that adopt them.

Tactical Intelligence Security can help organizations navigate these challenges and protect their networks and critical assets. Our AI-powered VAPT services provide fast and accurate vulnerability identification, allowing organizations to proactively improve their security and avoid the consequences of a cyber attack. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a demo.

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