At a time when the evolution of the war in Ukraine is being pursued with extreme caution, especially in cyberspace, and when the new French government needs to define its digital roadmap soon, it seems imperative for us to create long-term evolutionary conditions. For cyber security. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, the acceleration of digital transformation is undoubted and the place given to it in our lives does not seem to be in question, quite the opposite.
Before we get bogged down in this technological race, shouldn’t we ask ourselves about the potential for evolution in terms of cybersecurity? Four scenarios could emerge by 2040 and will inspire us to make the right choice right now.
Scenario No. 1: Digital space, a place of peace and prosperity, the common good of humanity
In 2040, due to a technological advancement caused by intensive research, with global awareness of the importance of conserving this now vital new space, the digital space has been declared a common good for humanity at the United Nations Solomon General Assembly. It is protected by international conventions that prohibit its militarization, respect privacy and eliminate the possibility of its high-level security criminal action. A special body similar to the World Health Organization or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has been set up.
This scenario, strongly optimistic and therefore unlikely, is reasonable and will allow everyone to take advantage of digital technology. More broadly, the high level of confidence in the digital space allows technological acceleration to serve around the major challenges of our time, especially health and energy change. Examples exist, such as the Antarctic or deep seas that benefit from this status that has been honored so far.
Scenario No. 2: Digital space while balancing power
In 2040, through global investment and regulation, the digital space has become an important place with a high level of security. Only the powerful are able to deal with it at great cost. They do so with extreme restraint, as their respective societies and economies as well as global trade will suffer from the deterioration of digital security. Cybercrime would disappear because of the need for cost and efficiency.
Thus a balance is established, similar to the current airspace, not accessible to non-state actors worldwide: air warfare is rare, especially because of the cost of modern fighter planes, and citizens believe in airlines. A digital security council will be created, with only the great powers of space being counted as permanent members.
Scenario No. 3: Digital space, controlled insecurity
In 2040, as of today, digital insecurity is present, but remains on a relative scale that does not call into question our familiar model. States take positions, enact regulations and conduct incentive policies to increase the level of security. Nonetheless, they do so while conducting offensive operations to protect their interests, even if it means destabilizing the security structures they are building elsewhere.
Cybercrime continues to exploit vulnerabilities and re-use offensive tactics and tools invented by the state, but its impact is both politically and economically sustainable, especially thanks to the insurance system. Unfortunately, like material space, the most vulnerable (vulnerable users, small businesses and fragile states) are the first victims.
Scenario 4: Lack of confidence, global digital space collapses and regional alternatives are born
In 2040, after years of a wave of massive global attacks, some of which had major human and economic consequences, the boundless digital space collapsed on its own. The whole global model, which became uncontrollable, uncontrolled data localization, technological monopoly their terms, voiceless international law and invalid national rights, is being deeply questioned by states and citizens.
New spaces have been created based on a national or regional approach. Beyond the legal aspects, they rely on different technologies to avoid systemic effects; Quality and safety are potentially controlled at cost and cost of innovation; The interface is controlled, etc.
In such a situation, the beginnings of which have already been realized with China and Russia, the insecurity of both the state and the source of cyber crime has not disappeared, it has increased even in the most fragile regions. Ultimately, in this hypothesis, digital space, losing its universal specificity, aligns itself with physical space, for better or for worse.
Naturally, the unwritten future and the most promising scenario is a combination of the four proposed. One constant remains to be strengthened today: the need to invest in cybersecurity technology and skills so that Europe can master its future. This is a general prerequisite for these four situations.