Security threats in 2023 and how businesses can prepare for them

Prosegur Research, the company's intelligence and foresight think tank, has just published its study The World 2023. It reviews the trends with the greatest potential impact in the security field and provides a series of recommendations for anticipating them.

The World 2023 is an attempt to apply analytical foresight to the scenarios we are most likely to encounter in the coming months. In addition to including a calendar with the main events that will influence security, the study addresses systemic risks, i.e. "those that have a cross-cutting and amplified impact on several areas", explains José María Blanco, manager of Intelligence and Foresight: from the rise of extremism and authoritarian drift in many countries to economic crises, the return of geopolitics as a dominant factor, as well as supply chains as targets, physical, psychological and social well-being, the illicit use of technology or environmental factors such as the dispute over water.

The persistence, worsening or growing complexity of some risks, the irruption of others such as war and the economic and technological transformations that are taking entire sectors by storm, "explain a greater sense of insecurity in the face of an even more uncertain, unstable reality of continuous crises, in what is known as permacrisis", points out the head of Intelligence and Foresight, Carmen Jordá. "The rough seas we are sailing are generating waves of change that are rapidly sweeping away what we thought existed and what we knew", the report adds.

The rough seas we are sailing are generating waves of change that are rapidly sweeping away what we thought existed and what we knew.


These are some of the forecasts for this year, with a tendency to project into the following years:

- The increase in conflict is also fuelled by the manipulation of consciences through the avalanche of disorganised data, which brings more disinformation (infoxication) than objective clarity, and which can only be countered by training in critical thinking and safety. The last months of 2022, with a very significant increase in protests in almost all continents, have been the prelude to a 2023 with more than 80% of the world's countries with inflation above 6%.

- A rising social polarisation with very different motivations which, combined with socio-economic crises or environmental impacts, translates into conflict — according to Moisés Naím, "the great challenge of societies is within them" —, forced migrations or new activism and cyber-activism focused on achieving media repercussions. Blanco gives the example of activism that demands changes in the energy sector through attacks on museums, or demands in the meat sector through performance; disruptive actions in this sense are expected in 2023.

- These and other trends accentuate the fragmentation of power, whose vacuum is exploited by alternative organisations constituted as States within States and with a growing criminal capacity. In parallel, criminal governance is also advancing, undermining the foundations of institutions and societies. In fact, three quarters of the world's population live in countries with high levels of crime. "We have to consider it as an evil multinational that diversifies its activities and business models", says Blanco.


- Attacks on logistics chains, data and digital infrastructures, as well asmoney laundering and ransomware-typeextortion areexpected to increase . Environmental crimes such as deforestation through timber trafficking or illegal mining are also on the rise. The multinational criminal organisation has an advantage: its agility to incorporate technological innovations such as the crime as a servicemodel on the Dark Web (+ 300% since 2017) or drones.

- Finally, further surprises in the form of hybrid threats cannot be set aside: disinformation, sabotage and attacks on critical sectors and infrastructures, cyberwarfare, etc. Their materialisation will have a greater systemic impact than ever before in a number of areas.


What can we do about this?

Accuracy in the analysis of all possible risks aims to awaken the preventive awareness of institutions and companies. Blanco reminds us that this realistic vision should not lead to a paralysing pessimism, because this moment of instability is the B side of a global society that is experiencing the best moment in its historyin terms of economic, educational and social progress; he refers to some examples provided by Kiko Llaneras, such as the fact that the world population with access to electricity went from 83% to 91% between 2010 and 2020, that since 2000, those who complete primary school in the world have gone from 82% to 90%, or that mortality before the age of five was reduced by half between 2000 and 2020, from 7.5% to 3.6%.

The report advises completing the transition to a new comprehensive, hybrid security culture — addressing physical, digital, reputational, economic — as soon as possible, with more collaborative, flexible and adaptive organisations in a resilient network to ensure business continuity. Companies and institutions that embrace and foster such a culture are more trusted by citizens seeking certainty.


We need to observe trends with an honest eye, analyse their impacts with curiosity and develop (situational awareness). "We must reflect on change in order to take it on board and be part of it", adds Carmen Jordá.  "We must be awake to the signs in order to know how to interpret them not only in terms of threats, but also in terms of opportunities, think ahead and look to the experts who present different points of view to our daily focus in order to change plans quickly, with agility". This is not a simple declaration of intent: Blanco recalls that, in the past two years, different companies and even states have not only weathered the continuous juxtaposition of crises with ease, but have emerged stronger.

"At Prosegur," the report continues, "we believe that the mindset of change will require, more than ever, courage and diversity as key anchor points, courage and diversity as key anchor points to navigate this uncertain but exciting 2023".