Cisco today launched its Annual Internet Report, which assesses mobile, Wi-Fi and fixed broadband networking with quantitative projections on the growth of users, devices and connections over a five-year forecast period (2018–2023).

The most alarming finding: the number of cyberattacks will double by 2023.


  • Cyberattacks will double from 9 million in 2018 to 15.4 million by 2023 globally.
  • The peak attack size has increased 63% year-over-year (YoY).
  • There has been a 776% growth in attacks between 100 Gbps and 400 Gbps YoY.
  • The average distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is 1 Gbps, which is disruptive enough to take most organizations completely offline.

What does that mean for decision makers in the public and private sectors?

A growth in connectivity and devices means innovative new technologies that will transform the way we live, play, work and learn. High-speed, low-latency networks will allow breakthroughs in telemedicine, will foster newer, smarter connected communities, will enhance learning, and will increase efficiency and safety in industries like manufacturing and agriculture.

However, the benefits that come from the growth in traffic and bandwidth can also yield a growth in DDoS attacks. In 2023, two-thirds of the global population will be Internet users (5.3 billion people). Mobile-to-mobile connections will grow from one-third of all network devices in 2018, to half in 2023. And the number of devices will increase; by 2023, the average person is expected to have nearly four connected devices. Unfortunately, this growth helps fuel an increase in DDoS attacks.

There are two important lessons:

  1. There should be a continued push towards increasing the security capabilities of the devices—like IOT—being connected up. Otherwise, increasing compute power at the edge can be hijacked and harnessed to launch every more powerful attacks. There are significant industry-led efforts underway to increase the level of security onboard devices and Cisco is actively participating in these forums. If these security standards were to be widely adopted, it would ensure the next generation of devices are more secure than what we have seen so far.
  2. We also see the increasing importance of ensuring networks that are intelligent and intuitive so there is a plane of visibility and control capable of supplementing the security built into the devices themselves.

Zero Trust remains a priority. We know that email remains the number-one threat vector. We also know that insider threat issues, like file sharing and stolen credentials, show that security leaders need to look at what’s happening inside as much as outside the network. Some criminals can log in rather than break in. These security issues highlight the need for better multi-factor authentication across the public and private sectors.

Governments must modernize their infrastructures to keep pace with evolving threats. In just the past year, we’ve seen a convergence of efforts and alignment in policy across government to create an environment where IT modernization can progress faster than ever before. According to Accenture, “86% of [U.S.] federal leaders say that collaboration with the private sector over the next four years will be key to building cyber-resilience and thwarting attacks.” These are positive trends and we are an enthusiastic partner.

We also see that trust in the network is more important than ever. Telecommunications networks today are complex. There are multiple vendors all constantly updating their products, software and services. Speed in software deployments has accelerated to the point where no one can review them in real time. That’s why it’s so important to trust the vendors supporting the network; that means trusting every vendor operating in the network from edge to edge.

What Else Do We Know About the Future of the Internet?

Cisco has been a leader forecasting and measuring trends and growth in networking and the internet for years first through our Visual Networking Index and now with our Annual Internet Report. With decades of experience, we can forecast the future of the internet.

In 2023:

  • There will be 5.3 billion global Internet users (66% of global population).
  • There will be 29.3 billion network connections (3.6 connections per capita).
  • There will be 14.7 billion Mobile to Mobile connections (50% of all devices/connections) in part due to the tremendous growth in IoT.
  • Average fixed broadband speed will more than double, reaching 110 Mbps.
  • Average Wi-Fi speeds will triple, reaching 92 Mbps.
  • Average mobile speeds will more than triple, reaching 44 Mbps.
  • 5G speed will be 13X faster than average mobile speed, reaching 575 Mbps.

All of this represents tremendous growth: growth in the potential of a more connected world, and also growth in the number of cybersecurity threats.

That means governments will need to adapt with comprehensive cybersecurity security policies. It will also require increased spectrum for Wi-Fi and necessary funding to ensure that the benefits of the internet’s growth help bridge, rather than enhance, the digital divide.

As the internet grows and our world becomes more interconnected, we look forward to helping our partners in the public and private sectors build a more inclusive future for all citizens.

Full insights from the Cisco Annual Internet Report can be found here.


Jeff Campbell

Senior Vice President & Chief Government Strategy Officer

Government Affairs and Public Policy