The safety of our online lives has become increasingly important. Whether it be interference in elections, attacks by hostile forces, or online fraud, the security of the web feels fragile. Cybersecurity has reached a crossroads and we need to decide where it goes next. The outcome will touch each of us – will we pay more and yet still be less safe? Will we face higher insurance premiums and bank charges to cover the rising number of cyber-incidents? We stand in the middle of a storm – not just a geopolitical one, but a cyberpolitical one. It feels as if no one trusts anyone any more, and suspicion and confusion reign across our delicate cyberworld. Which way do we turn?
As in many classic tales, there are two roads ahead. In one direction lies “Balkanisation”: the fragmentation and isolation of an industry. Balkanisation is a natural response to fear and mistrust; when we’re scared we go home and lock the doors. But for cybersecurity, Balkanisation means growing political intervention and a breakdown of international projects and cooperation. This could leave every country effectively facing global cyberthreats on its own. For consumers it could mean higher costs as businesses seek to recoup money lost to cybercrime, as well as reduced protection because competition and choice are restricted.