World Economy

OECD: Digital Security Posing Economic Risk

OECD: Digital Security Posing Economic RiskOECD: Digital Security Posing Economic Risk

Governments and public sector leaders need to start viewing digital security as an economic threat rather than a technical issue, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned.

The economic think-tank Friday issued digital security risk management, its first set of digital recommendations in 13 years.

It argues that global digital connectivity has brought considerable business and economic opportunities but threats are growing in number and sophistication.

“Digital risk cannot be eliminated, and a totally secure digital environment is impossible if you want to reap the economic potential it opens up,” said OECD science, technology and innovation director Andrew Wyckoff.

“But digital risk can be managed effectively. The leaders of an organization are best-placed to steer the cultural and organizational changes needed to reduce this risk to an acceptable level.”

Both governments and private companies should take specific responsibility in combating digital risks, the OECD said.

The OECD recommendations calls on the highest level of leadership in government and in public and private organizations to adopt an approach to digital security risk management that builds trust and takes advantage of the open digital environment for economic and social prosperity.


The OECD argues that the risk is no longer just a technological one, but one that could affect businesses and governments far more widely. It added that the continued use of the term ‘cybersecurity’ may have a limiting effect on people’s perception of the scale and nature the problem.

“The notion that digital security risk merits a response fundamentally different in nature from other categories of risk needs to be countered,” states the report. “To that effect, the term ‘cybersecurity’ and more generally the prefix ‘cyber’–which helped convey this misleading sense of specificity–do not appear in the 2015 Recommendation.”

The document concludes that governments should work to implement “national strategies” for digital security. Such strategies should encompass best practice for the public sector, large enterprise, SMBs, and individual citizens. Governments should endeavor to “lead by example” in their own actions and also cooperate with counterparts in other countries.

“[National strategies should] be supported at the highest level of government and articulate a clear and whole-of-government approach that is flexible, technology-neutral and coherent with other strategies fostering economic and social prosperity,” stated the report.