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Australia leads new MIT Cyber Defense Index

Written by Tue 15 Nov 2022

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Australia, Netherlands, and South Korea are ranked as the top three countries in the first-ever Cyber Defense Index by MIT Technology Review.

The Index ranked the world’s 20 largest and most digitally-forward economies based on their preparation against, response and recovery from cyber security threats.

Australia ranked in top position due to the government’s recent efforts to apply digital tools and regulatory frameworks to safeguard personal data and digital transactions.

When Anthony Albanese took office as Australian Prime Minister in 2022, cyber security become a primary policy. This urgency has since increased following a recent hack of Optus, Australia’s second-largest mobile carrier, which led to 10 million records being exposed.

“The bad actors are ahead—and nimbler—particularly in use of AI. They have an asymmetric warfare advantage—they only must find one weakness out of millions, while we need to keep all the millions equally secure,” said Michael Coden, Associate Director of MIT Interdisciplinary Consortium for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.

The Cyber Defense Index organised its data under four pillars: Critical Infrastructure, Cybersecurity Resources, Organisational Capacity, and Policy Commitment.

“We have to shift cybersecurity strategy away from trying to protect ourselves against everything, toward trying to be resilient and recover from the cyberattacks that will happen. It’s time to shift the focus a bit,” added Coden.

The Netherlands took second place due to its high ranking in Cybersecurity Resources. The country is home to the Global Forum for Cyber Expertise, as well as the cyber security operational headquarters for Europol and NATO.

“We view cyber security as a risk-based practice, where, in fact, achieving cyber security is really an acceptance of insecurity, but with controls available that allow us to continue operating in the face of risk,” wrote Sadie Creese, Professor of Cybersecurity at the University of Oxford.

South Korea took third place for its Policy Commitment and Critical Infrastructure, which helps the country protect against cyber threats from North Korea, which has a notoriety for being a safe harbor for cyber malfeasance. Analyst firm, Chainalysis, found North Korean hacking group, Lazarus Group, stole over $400 million in cryptocurrency in 2021, largely from South Koreans.

The full Cyber Defense Index ranking is as follows:

  1. Australia
  2. Netherlands
  3. South Korea
  4. United States of America
  5. Canada
  6. Poland
  7. United Kingdom
  8. France
  9. Japan
  10. Switzerland
  11. Italy
  12. China
  13. Germany
  14. Spain
  15. Saudi Arabia
  16. Mexico
  17. India
  18. Brazil
  19. Turkey
  20. Indonesia

A common theme for lower-ranking countries relates to investment access to upgrading infrastructure, as many cyber security advances lean on 5G technology.

“Poorer countries suffer from a lack of investment, and lack of knowledge and resources. This creates challenges when significant upgrades are required to critical infrastructure,” said Yufei Wu, Professor at the Centre for Information and Communication Technology, University of Trinidad and Tobago.

Setting up 5G infrastructures requires large investments, a lot of advice, technical support, and experience from the network infrastructure community.

“5G can make management of security environments much more complex, and as new parameters such as smart buildings, intelligent manufacturing, and autonomous driving come into focus, the need to maintain cyber security investments will only increase,” added Wu.

The Cyber Defense Index assessed members of the G20, excluding Russia and including Poland. The report gathered data from publicly available sources and a survey of 1,000 senior executives with cyber security responsibilities. Scores were given to each country based on the four pillars and confidence levels expressed by survey respondents.

Written by Tue 15 Nov 2022

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