A growing number of cyber attacks targeting critical infrastructure will be one of the major cyber security challenges for 2018, according to a new report.

Based on a survey of industry experts, the Kosciuszko Institute found while last year saw “an intense information war aimed at shaping the recipients’ viewpoint”, 2018 could become “a year of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure”.

Ambassador Marina Kaljurand, chair of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace and former Estonian foreign affairs minister, said that this trend will challenge the fundamental values that underpin the internet – namely, openness and freedom.

Paul Timmers, former director of the Sustainable & Secure Society Directorate within the EU’s DG CONNECT, added that as early as 2016, the world saw attacks on critical infrastructure systems, including logistics, health and energy.

The Kosciuszko Institute has now predicted that in 2018, these attacks could spread to other sectors, including water and transport. The company thinks that an important element of these potential incidents will be their predicted international and cross-sector nature, which then creates an urgent need for cooperation between international organisations, governments and companies.

This would result in economic challenges related to the global lack of qualified experts in cyber security. Mr Timmers added that digitisation blurring the border between sectors makes cooperation all the more important.

Meanwhile, Commander Wiesław Goździewicz, legal adviser to the NATO Joint Force Training Centre in Bydgoszcz, Poland, suggested that 2018 will see continued activity by cyber criminals.

He predicted that criminal groups will still be one step ahead of security specialists in 2018. Chief research officer at the cyber security branch of the Estonian Information System Authority Liisa Past emphasised the collaboration between cyber criminals and states, highlighting that proxies will continue to be employed in 2018 to achieve political goals.

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