BUSINESSES WILL face a historically broad and deep set of risks in 2023, posing interconnected and existential threats across geographies and sectors. That’s according to specialist risk consultancy Control Risks.

Launching its annual Risk Map forecast featuring the foremost for business, Control Risks has pointed to a combination of fractious geopolitics, armed conflict, disrupted energy systems, economic strife and disarray in digital networks during the coming year, with cyber risk at the top of the agenda.

In 2023, we can expect the emergence of a fundamental breakdown of global networks into distinct regional or even national architectures, caused by the ‘weaponisation’ of cyber space and a clash of national interests. The ambition of operating a single, global network will be significantly challenged.

Enabled by an expanded attack surface and a significant increase in automation across the entire spectrum of cyber threats, the cyber arms race will accelerate in 2023. In parallel to this ‘weaponisation’, nation states are looking to exert more control over what some have already defined as their national cyber space. Network and system resilience will be tested like never before.

Fragmenting world order

Nick Allan, CEO at Control Risks CEO, asserted: “In the fragmenting world order, the weapons of choice for many states will be found in the cyber sphere. This will either be through the spread of disinformation, aided by improving deepfake technology, or through cyber attacks or both.”

As a business operating in both the geopolitical and cyber arenas, Control Risks can see very clearly the direct correlation between geopolitical tensions and cyber aggression. “An element of uncertainty and fear provides a level of state-versus-state deterrence,” observed Allan, “but corporates find themselves as easier targets for proxy and real wars. This is made worse by the transfer of military-grade cyber capabilities to criminal or radicalised groups.”

Further, Allan explained: “2023 will see more geopolitical and economic volatility accompanied by operational challenges in energy and digital networks. The increasingly apparent effects of a changing climate will add additional stresses and strains. Resilience, insight and courage will be the watchwords for business in the year ahead.”

Supporting the top risks for 2023 is a new map, the Global Risk Forecast. This shows an holistic business risk rating for the countries of the world that draws on a selection of risks. The composite score includes Control Risks’ political, security, operational, regulatory, cyber and integrity risks and encompasses a range of environmental, social and corporate governance-related risks.

Each rating reflects Control Risks’ outlook for overall risks to business to the end of 2023, taking into account known or anticipated trends and developments that could impact the business environment.

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