Derek Manky, Chief Security Strategist & Global VP of Threat Intelligence at FortiGuard Labs, offers a piercing analysis of cybercrime’s often invisible damage to our economies and society.
The global transition to the digital economy means that the operations of governments, critical infrastructures, businesses, and individuals are now a tightly integrated system of interconnected resources. Everything from commerce and banking to delivering critical services to managing international transportation and energy grids are now online, and many of their underlying resources, such as supply chains, are interdependent. Because of this, digital disruptions can have far-reaching implications, impacting the lives and well-being of virtually everyone.
Cybercrime presents a significant risk to this new digital world, impacting everyone from individuals and companies to critical infrastructure and governments. In its Global Risks Report for 2024, the World Economic Forum has identified AI-generated misinformation/disinformation and cyber insecurity as among the top risks facing the global community. The forum has also pointed out that cybercrime is now the world’s third-largest economy after the United States and China. But its potential impact goes well beyond financial loss. In addition to direct damages, cybercrime creates an enormous barrier to digital trust, undermines the benefits of cyberspace, increases global inequality, and hinders international cyber-stability efforts.
The challenge is how to raise the bar for everyone—businesses, governments, academic institutions, law enforcement, and individual citizens alike.
A Global Challenge Requires a Global Response
Despite the seriousness of the cybercrime challenge, efforts to fight cybercriminal activities to date have largely been uncoordinated and fragmented. While there are certainly organisations and vendors committed to battling cybercriminals, isolated efforts struggle to make a dent in the concerted efforts of today’s highly organised cybercriminals. To address this challenge, the World Economic Forum established the Centre for Cybersecurity in January 2018, a coalition of public and private organisations working to build a safe and secure global cyberspace.
However, since its founding, the need for a coordinated response to cybercrime has become even more urgent. In response, the Centre for Cybersecurity established its Partnership against Cybercrime community. And its first initiative, announced in January 2023 and led by World Economic Forum partners Fortinet, Microsoft, PayPal, and Santander, was to build the Cybercrime Atlas, a collaborative research platform designed to gather and collate information about the cybercriminal ecosystem and major threat actors operating today. Now launched, this powerful open-source research tool is creating new insights into the cybercriminal ecosystem and will enable and accelerate the disruption of cybercrime.
The Cybercrime Atlas
The Cybercrime Atlas represents a significant paradigm shift in how we collectively address the cybercrime challenge. This collaborative platform enables global businesses, national and international law enforcement agencies, cybercrime investigators, and threat intelligence researchers to proactively share knowledge and collate data about cybercriminal activities, the cybercriminal ecosystem, and major threat actors. It also maps criminal activity worldwide and uses open-source research to help organisations understand and disrupt the cybercriminal ecosystem.
The Cybercrime Atlas builds a comprehensive picture of the cybercrime landscape, including criminal operations, shared infrastructures, and networks. By mapping and documenting the cybercrime landscape, organisations can more efficiently and accurately track and trace cybercriminal activity, quickly identify threats and threat actors, and identify opportunities for coordinated action to fight cyberthreats. It will enable the cybersecurity industry to more efficiently allocate resources in the fight against them. And as this database grows, organisations will be better able to identify, attribute, and thwart attacks in midstream, build proactive playbooks to protect against known and unknown threats, and generate policy recommendations—all of which will serve to make the unlawful efforts of the cybercriminal community increasingly cost-prohibitive.
The Cybercrime Atlas is a first-of-its-kind initiative, leveraging the efforts of dozens of organisations to drive real impact by creating a chain of disruption through the world of cybercrime. Fortinet is proud to be one of the founding members of the World Economic Forum Centre for Cybersecurity, an active contributor to its Partnership against Cybercrime community, and founding member in the development of the new Cybercrime Atlas. We are excited for the opportunity to continue to work with private and public sector leaders and national and international law enforcement agencies to help make our digital world a safer place.