When I write and speak about the specific impacts of geopolitical instability and global risk on the technology sector, I usually focus on Asia. In previous editions of my weekly HMG Strategy newsletter, I’ve discussed the potential effects of the coronavirus on global supply chains, the dangers of IP theft and the uncertainty generated by China’s intentions to surpass the U.S. as the world’s dominant economy by 2030.
In this week’s newsletter, I am shifting the focus from Asia to Europe. From my perspective as a technology leader, I see the continuing political instability across Europe as a potential threat to cybersecurity. Nearly every global business based in the U.S. has clients, customers and partners in Europe. Our IT systems are deeply intertwined across many industries, including financial services, manufacturing, telecommunications and supply chain logistics.
These deep connections could easily be exploited by our enemies, causing serious disruptions to our economy here in the U.S. The steady growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) creates even more opportunities for bad actors to launch potentially destructive attacks on critical infrastructure such as highways, bridges, dams, reservoirs, electric power plants, hospitals, schools and airports.
I strongly recommend an excellent column published last week in GZERO, a publication by political scientist Ian Bremmer. Many of you have probably seen Bremmer speak in his role as president and founder of Eurasia Group, a political risk analysis firm. In the column, writer Alex Kliment cites rising geopolitical instability and the gradual disintegration of traditional alliances of central themes of this year’s Munich Security Conference. Specifically, he calls out the growing fragmentation of the Western alliances that had served as bulwarks against challenges from the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.
“For the Munich organizers, a fragmented ‘West’ makes it more difficult to tackle a whole host of global problems like climate change, A.I. regulation, and the threat to democracies around the world,” Kliment writes.
I see a clear line between the demise of the old alliances and rise of cyber threats to our increasingly interconnected and interdependent global markets. As technology leaders, we must be mindful of these looming challenges. It makes sense to focus on Asia -- it’s both a huge market and a major source of risk. But we also need to keep an eye on Europe.
In other words, we cannot simply focus on one part of the world. Technology knows no borders, and cyber threats can emerge from anywhere. As I’ve said and written before, this is the best time to be a technology leader – it’s also the most challenging.