Members of the G-20 are being encouraged to come together to view cyberthreats as an economic issue and to set emotions aside in discussion.
A former White House official told Bloomberg that the 19 economies and European Union have to look at the economic erosion cyberattacks cause rather than focusing on espionage and warfare. Melissa Hathaway, former Obama Administration member and now the owner of a private consulting firm, commented:
"We have made cybersecurity one topic when it is many, and countries can't see eye-to-eye on what is most important and what needs to be done first. We need to start to talk about this as gross domestic product loss, and the instability of the financial institutions we are all dependent on as a global economy."
Hathaway estimates that G-20 governments and citizens are costing $125 billion annually because of cyberattacks, while 2.5 million jobs have been lost to counterfeit businesses and piracy.
Although cyber warfare and espionage is unlikely to disappear any time soon, by focusing on the economic factors rather than the political, it is more likely that leaders will be able to see eye-to-eye on new policies. The former U.S. government official believes that by taking this route, steps can be taken to lower the rates of disruption and data theft that financial institutions face due to constant attacks on their networks.
"If you couch the conversation on the economy and not in espionage and warfare, we can all agree. The economy is common and safe ground," Hathaway noted.
The former official estimates that countries are losing billions a year to online criminals. The U.K., for example, loses a minimum of 3 percent of its gross domestic product to security breaches and hacking, an estimated £27 billion ($42.4 billion) every year.
The next G-20 summit is scheduled for September in St. Petersburg, Russia.