Cybersecurity index

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There is a wide gulf in cyber preparedness around the globe. Only about half of all countries have a cybersecurity strategy or are in the process of developing one, the United Nations telecommunications agency has reported. It’s urged more countries to consider national policies to protect against cybercrime.

Releasing its second Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said about 38 per cent of countries have a published cybersecurity strategy and an additional 12 per cent of governments are in the process of developing one.

The agency said more effort is needed in this critical area, particularly since it conveys that governments consider digital risks high priority. The report said it was ‘important to develop a cybersecurity culture where citizens are aware of the trade-off between risks and monitoring when using electronic networks’.

“Cybersecurity is an ecosystem where laws, organizations, skills, cooperation and technical implementation need to be in harmony to be most effective,” stated the report, adding that cybersecurity is “becoming more and more relevant in the minds of countries’ decision makers.”

The top ten most committed countries include three from Asia and the Pacific, two each from Europe and the Americas, and one from Africa, the Arab States, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. They are, in order: Singapore, United States, Malaysia, Oman, Estonia, Mauritius, Australia, Georgia, France and Canada. Russia ranked 11th. Only a minority of countries said they had a homegrown cybersecurity industry. The report called for more cyber cooperation between developed and developing countries.

Besides showing the overall cybersecurity commitment of ITU’s 193 member States, the index also shows the improvement and strengthening of the five pillars of the ITU Global Cybersecurity Agenda: legal, technical, organizational, capacity building and international cooperation. However as the report put it, there is ‘space for further improvement in cooperation at all levels, capacity building and organizational measures. As well, the gap in the level of cybersecurity engagement between different regions is still present and visible’.

The threat is particularly worrying as in 2016, according to ITU, nearly one per cent of all emails sent were essentially malicious attacks, the highest rate in recent years.

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said: “While the impact generated by cyberattacks, such as those carried out as recently as June 27, 2017, may not be eliminated completely, prevention and mitigation measures to reduce the risks posed by cyber-related threats can and should always be put in place.”

Visit the ITU website for the 78-page report on the index. You can contact the ITU Cybersecurity Team at: [email protected]