Singapore tops UN cybersecurity ranking

By on 26/07/2017
Singapore now ranked number 1 in the ITU's Global Cybersecurity Index (Image courtesy: Jxcacsi).

Singapore has knocked the United States from the top spot in a global ranking that measures the strength of countries’ cybersecurity provisions.

The United States took second place in the 2017 Global Cybersecurity Index, which is compiled by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU). In third place was Malaysia, followed by Oman, Estonia, Mauritius, Australia, Georgia, France and Canada. Small or developing countries pushed Germany, Norway and New Zealand – all highly rated in 2014 – out of the top 10, while Canada dropped eight places and Australia four. Singapore shot up from 20th place in 2014.

The ranking, which was first published in 2014, is based on assessments of countries’ legal, technical and organisational provisions; their education, training and research capabilities; and their participation in international networks for sharing information.

“The overall picture shows improvement and strengthening of all five elements of the cyber-security agenda in various countries” across all regions, the report states.

However, the index identifies a “wide gulf in cyber preparedness around the globe”, existing both within and between regions, and says there is “space for further improvement” worldwide in cooperation, capacity building and organisational measures.

ITU secretary general Houlin Zhao said: “While the impact generated by cyber-attacks, such as those [‘Petya’ ransomware attacks] carried out as recently as 27 June 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.”

The crucial first step is for each country to adopt a cybersecurity strategy that spells out how it will prepare for and respond to attacks, the report says, but only 38% of the ITU’s 193 member states have a strategy in place. A further 12% are currently developing one.

“More effort is needed in this critical area, particularly since it conveys that the government considers digital risks [to be a] high priority,” the report states.

Efforts should also be stepped up in the area of training, especially for staff in agencies that deal with cybercrime, as only 43% of states have capacity-building programmes in place for law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, it recommends.

Developing countries, in particular, face education and training shortages in cybersecurity as well as legal and political challenges, and developed nations should work with them to help train up local experts and provide other support.

Brahima Sanou, director of ITU’s telecommunication development bureau, said at the launch event on 5 July: “As the global community rapidly embraces [information and communications technologies] as a key enabler for social and economic development, it is vital that cybersecurity is made an integral and indivisible part of the digital transformation. We continue to encourage governments to consider national policies that take into account cybersecurity so that everyone can reap the benefits of the online world.”

The news comes days after the announcement that Peter Ong, head of the Singapore civil service, is to retire. Ong was widely recognised for his commitment to developing Singapore’s digital services and strengthening the digital capabilities of government bodies.

To view the full report visit: bit.ly/ITUcybersecurity2017

For up to date government news and international best practice follow us on Twitter @globegov

See also:

New Australian cyber unit to target overseas criminals

New international centre to challenge state-led fake news and cyber attacks

UK Home Office perm sec chosen as top security adviser to Theresa May

About Liz Heron

Liz Heron is a journalist based in London, who specialises in international news. She worked on daily newspapers for 16 years, reporting extensively on both general news and education. She was Education Editor of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and has contributed to a wide range of British media including The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC.

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