Cyberattack Threat Looms Large Over The World Economic Forum

While executive representation from Target and Home Depot – the locations of the largest and second largest POS security breaches in U.S. history – was not at the World Economic Forum, the plight of the two retailers was a favorite topic of conversation this year.

Optimism does not rain in Davos this year; executives seem to think that as bad as 2014 was from a security standpoint, 2015 is going to be much, much worse.

“The number of security incidents this year will be exponentially greater than last year,” John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco, the big Silicon Valley technology company, told The New York Times.

In addition to their increasing number, Vishal Sikka, chief executive of the Indian outsourcing giant Infosys, notes that the security breaches are also getting more malicious and destructive.

“We haven’t seen the worst yet,” he said. “I think we’ll see five times as many bad incidents as we did last year.”

Robert Smith, chief executive of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in enterprise technology companies, thinks there is no winning the war in the long term.

“You can never win,” Smith said. “It’s a constant battle to stay even or stay ahead. The security breaches that we had in the last 12 months are going to pale in comparison to these that we’re going to have in the next 12 months.”

While Target and Home Depot were not present in Davos this year, the infamously recently hacked Sony did make an appearance. Kazuo Hirai discussed the attack that briefly at a private lunch. Sony was different from the Target and Home Depot hacks because rather than looking for information for a profit, thieves just wanted to embarrass Sony.