State sponsored cyber threats are a major concern for 80% of businesses around the world

Nearly eight in 10 businesses globally feel that the pandemic has increased the likelihood of a state-led or -sponsored cyberattack on their organisation, revealed a new survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and the Cybersecurity Tech Accord on Monday.

The businesses call for greater international political cooperation to mitigate these state-sponsored threats.

The survey was conducted between November and December 2020, before the pernicious cyberattack on software company SolarWinds came to light that affected over nine federal agencies and 100 organisations, according to the White House.

“That attack was a moment of reckoning for many organisations about the challenges posed by state-led and -sponsored cyberattacks but, as the survey reveals, many businesses have long been aware of the escalating threat,” the research said.

“As a coalition of over 150 global technology companies, we are greatly concerned by state-sponsored cyberattacks, which are becoming ever more frequent and sophisticated. Something needs to be done and soon,” said Annalaura Gallo, secretariat of Cybersecurity Tech Accord.

“This survey shows that businesses see state-led and -sponsored cyberattacks as a pressing issue that demands governments act nationally and internationally.”


Companies expect cyber threats from nation-state actors to increase in the next five years and will be second only to that of organised crime.

“There is a false sense of security. Sixty-eight per cent of executives feel their organisations are ‘very’ or ‘completely’ prepared to deal with a cyberattack,” the report mentioned.

The survey targeted over 500 director-level or above executives from businesses in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the US, familiar with their organisation’s cybersecurity strategy.

According to Charles Carmakal, senior vice president and CTO at FireEye, most organisations don’t have tangible experience dealing with such threats because they are rarely the primary targets of these attacks.

“The recent SolarWinds hack may compel more organisations to think about how they mitigate risk,” he said.

Although cyberattacks are a silent threat, they can have devastating and long-lasting effects on our society.

“Given the recent escalation of tensions in cyberspace, cooperation between governments is becoming increasingly complicated as political systems differ and technological competition rises,” said Marietje Schaake, President of the CyberPeace Institute.

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