UN finds cybersecurity is a struggle worldwide

There are massive gaps in security among the 134 countries surveyed, including the world’s most powerful nations.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read
Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP/Getty Images

The whole world could use a cybersecurity upgrade.

As cyberattacks grow more sophisticated and capable of knocking down power grids, locking up hospitals and robbing companies, online security has become a major concern for national defense. But a United Nations survey released Wednesday shows major gaps in the security among the world's most powerful countries.

The Global Cybersecurity Index (PDF) takes a look at defense capabilities in 134 countries, focusing on five factors: technical, organizational, legal, cooperation and growth potential. The index ranked countries in several ways, including those "most committed" to cybersecurity.

Singapore took the top rating for "most committed," edging out the United States, which came in No. 2. While the US beat Singapore on legal, organizational and growth potential factors, Singapore scored higher for cooperation.

Other nations rounding out the top 10 in cybersecurity commitment are Malaysia, Oman, Estonia, Mauritius, Australia, Georgia, France, Canada and Russia, respectively. Georgia and France tied for No. 8.

The survey found that despite the massive gap in wealth, poorer nations like Malaysia and Oman were stronger in cybersecurity than countries such as France and Canada.

"The data collection shows that developing countries lack well-trained cybersecurity experts as well as a thorough appreciation and the necessary education on cybersecurity issues for law enforcement, and continued challenges in the judiciary and legislative branches," the survey said.

Half of the countries that responded to the survey do not have a cybersecurity strategy. More than half don't have training for their police. The UN called the creation of a cybersecurity strategy a "crucial first step" for any nation. 

There's also a major gap in cybersecurity among the five permanent members of the United Nations' Security Council. The US was ranked No. 2. France was No. 8. Russia ranked No. 10. The UK was No. 12. China placed No. 32. 

The survey noted that there's no global standard for cybersecurity, which it considers problematic.

"Cybersecurity is an ecosystem where laws, organizations, skills, cooperation and technical implementation need to be in harmony to be most effective," the survey said.

Here's the full report:

UN report by CNET News on Scribd

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