What will cybersecurity look like in 2025?, Part 2: Microsoft envisions an optimistic future

The future of cybersecurity will be influenced by more than just technical factors like the spread of malware, or even targeted cyber-attacks.  Global responses to social issues such as population growth, educational investments, or even trade liberalization will also play a significant role.

Continuing our series examining what cybersecurity will look like in the year 2025, let’s look at how the technology and social policy decisions addressing important issues, will influence three scenarios we believe could emerge in the next 10 years —Peak, Plateau, and Canyon.  Each of which are demonstrated in our report, Cyberspace 2025: Today’s Decisions, Tomorrow’s Terrain.

According to the report, growth will likely have the biggest impact on cybersecurity.  Growth means more people, more devices, more connectivity, and more data.  India, for example, will experience growth of more than 3,000 percent in its total number of broadband subscriptions, from about 20 million in 2012 to more than 700 million. In contrast, during the same period, the entire European Union (28 countries/regions) will add only 105 million new broadband subscriptions, from nearly 143 million in 2012 to 248 million in 2025.

By the year 2025, our data also shows that emerging economies will have overtaken developed countries as the larger market for in-home consumer electronics, with emerging economies comprising over 60 percent of the total global market. This shift will require global technology suppliers to adapt their products to these new markets. Market regulators then will need to consider how to attract a combination of global and local suppliers to meet this demand.  If they don’t it will lead to what we call a “Plateau,” or even “Canyon” scenario.

The Plateau scenario is characterized by asymmetry. Political, economic, and societal forces both bolster and hinder technological progress and cybersecurity. Some governments have inconsistent policies and standards with varied levels of stakeholder participation and international cooperation, while other governments form clusters of open trade and foreign direct investment (FDI). Some countries are able to leverage technology to advance economic and socioeconomic development, while other countries are left behind technologically, unable to fulfill the potential of ICT. This fragmented and uneven approach to governance and the economy leads to a less than optimal global cybersecurity landscape.

The Canyon scenario is characterized by obstructionist government policies and standards, protectionist stances, and isolation. This significantly restricts trade and FDI and undermines relationships across industrial sectors within countries as well as between countries. In this scenario, economic and technology growth is slower, with limited adoption of ICT and deep failures in cybersecurity.

As the cloud becomes increasingly necessary to the development and delivery of critical services, so too will the desire of some governments to regulate it. Balancing key national interests such as the protection of critical infrastructure and ensuring the security, privacy
and reliability of data will become an important topic of debate. It can lead what we call a “Peak” scenario.

The Peak scenario is characterized by clear, effective government policies and standards across economies, and strong collaboration between governments to support open trade and promote FDI. This is a scenario of innovation, in which ICT fulfills its potential to strengthen governance models, economies, and societies. The actions of governments, businesses, and societal organizations foster the widespread and rapid adoption of technology. The political, economic, and social support leads to accelerated economic and technology growth and improved global cybersecurity.

This video helps illustrate these concepts:

Microsoft is optimistic about the future of cybersecurity.  This report gives policymakers, business leaders and other decision makers a framework for evaluating today’s policy decisions. Making more data-driven decisions and dedicating resources to support them can create a less daunting and more navigable terrain towards cyberspace for 2025, today, tomorrow, and beyond.  Once countries have an understanding of which scenario they are trending toward, they will next need to think about their regional topography in cyberspace and what mix of Canyon, Plateau and Peak scenarios they may face.

Our Cyberspace 2025 series concludes next week with Microsoft’s policy recommendations helping create a Peak Cyberspace for 2025.

Tim Rains
Trustworthy Computing

About the Author
Tim Rains

Chief Security Advisor, Microsoft Worldwide Cybersecurity & Data Protection

Tim Rains is Chief Security Advisor of Microsoft’s Worldwide Cybersecurity & Data Protection group where he helps Microsoft’s enterprise customers with cybersecurity strategy and planning. Formerly, Tim was Director Cybersecurity & Cloud Strategy in Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft, where he Read more »