US Council on Foreign Relations survey: a disruptive cyber attack on critical infrastructure is the top concern for 2020

Published: Thursday, 19 December 2019 09:45

The threat of a highly disruptive cyber attack on US critical infrastructure is the top-ranked concern for the second straight year, according to the Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) twelfth annual Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS). The survey identifies potential conflicts for the United States in the year ahead. A confrontation with Iran or an altercation with North Korea are the two highest-rated overseas threats.

The survey, conducted by CFR’s Center for Preventive Action (CPA), asked foreign policy experts to rank thirty ongoing or potential conflicts based on their likelihood of occurring or escalating in the next year and their potential impact on US national interests.

“Perhaps indicating rising anxiety about the state of the world, respondents had more fears for 2020 than in any PPS in the past decade. Of the thirty concerns, only two were judged as having a low likelihood of occurring next year. This is why the PPS is critical in helping to direct efforts by policymakers,” said Paul B. Stares, CPA director and General John W. Vessey senior fellow for conflict prevention. 

This year, a mass-casualty terrorist attack on the US homeland replaced tensions on the Korean Peninsula as a top-three concern. In total, thirteen conflicts were considered significant risks:

Impact: High 
Likelihood: Moderate

Impact: Moderate 
Likelihood: High

More details.