The Best and Worst of Cyber Security
June 25, 2013
The entire cyber arena is at volatile state right now and many countries are at a standstill in regards to how cyber security issues should be handled. In fact very few countries can even be considered IT literate and many do not understand the threats posed by vulnerabilities or have the operational capabilities to effectively address them.
While the United States, China, Russia, Israel and Iran dominate the news with the cyber-attacks they have either initiated or endured, all of them, with the exception of Israel, are not considered the “best” players in this cyber game. They are all IT literate and have articulated clear security strategies; however, the factors for success or failure are endless, as a result their environments are still at high risk for attack. The Nordic countries are universally perceived to have established the best practices for cyber security with a system based on transparency, information sharing and trust.
Cyber’s Best Players
Finland takes a very proactive approach to cyber security and publicly admits to wanting to be the world’s leader in information security by 2015 and by 2016 Finland will be the forerunner in both cyber threat preparedness and threat management. However, it is not just their drive to be the best it is the strategies the nation has implemented that make them the best in cyber security.
Finland boasts a well-stocked arsenal of worms, malware and viruses designed to defend against any cyber intrusions. This arsenal is protecting Finland’s military, government, critical infrastructures and private enterprises. The country understands that prevention only works so far and defensive measures are crucial because systems will inevitably be hacked. The country also realizes that there is no point in allocating resources to protect everything instead only focus on preventing attacks on sensitive networks and everything else can be dealt with as attacks unfold. It is the Nordic level of trust across sectors that allows for such national cyber security measures to work and that makes Finland the prime example of cyber excellence.
Similar to Finland, Sweden adopts an across sectors approach to cyber security, incorporating all stakeholders involved. The country is also expanding its defense network to encompass the technological expertise of the private sector and to close the knowledge gap between the technical experts and those responsible for making policy decisions. Sweden also recognizes that the technology and funds to support a cyber security policy are only a small part; people remain the key component to creating a successful policy. The country is working to establish governance throughout all levels of the society.
Sweden also plays a vital role in connecting all the Nordic countries together to promote information exchange and collectively address the elements and challenges of cyber security. They understand and prioritize the fact that cyber security needs to be a national and global issue. Their level of transparency and commitment to information sharing makes them highly intelligent in the field of cyber security and able to react effectively to changes in the arena.
Israel has gained their talents in the field of cyber security mainly from their extensive amount of experience in handling advanced persistent threats. The country reports around 1,000 cyber-attacks every minute; these attacks originate from hacktivists, neighboring countries and the cyber-mafia. The commonality of cyber threats has forced the country to establish effective response policies in order to regain control of their networks. Additionally, Israel doesn’t just assume the defensive; the nation is often considered one of the most cyber offensive countries in the world along with China and Russia.
Israel also understands the threat potential it faces and recognizes there is still a lot to do in terms of establishing cyber security policies. Due to this, the country is working towards establishing greater collaboration between its academic world, industries and the government in creating more effective policies. Israel has also recently begun to train exemplary students as early as 10th grade for its already massive cyber task-force.
The Losing Team
It is safe to say that Mexico is easily the worst country in terms of combating cyber threats. Unlike those at the top, Mexico witnesses a huge disconnect throughout the country which makes it impossible to address any cyber security threats. The country has not articulated a formal strategy or a set of rules to follow within the cyber arena. The country’s internal battle with drug cartels and corruption disrupts any security measures set in place. Additionally, fear of the cartels prevents the successful implementation of any measures and, as a result, physical and technological security cannot be bridged. The massive disconnect between the two leaves the entire country at risk and there is little hope anything will be done to reverse that.
India has rapidly adopted many of the latest technologies; however, their citizens still have not received any education regarding cyber-crimes and how to maintain the security of these new systems. Computer illiteracy and pirated machines are widespread throughout the country and, as a result, India is one of the countries most affected by cyber-crimes in the world. In order to reverse these cyber security issues, training needs to be provided throughout the entire nation so every citizen understands the issues India faces with cyber security and can do their part to prevent further low-level breaches.
Brazil, while not completely new to the cyber world, definitely takes a laid back approach to security concerns. The country does not believe that cyber space will become the new battlefield for wars and as a result the country’s cyber force only concentrates on maintaining internal infrastructure. Despite a large and active population of Internet users, especially in terms of on-line banking, there has been little done to combat banking Trojans and make the effort towards increasing cyber security. Cyber-attacks on users are well above the world average in Brazil, yet police corruption and legislative roadblocks continue to prevent progress in the world of cyber security from occurring. The push for this country to adopt stronger polices will undoubtedly be the impending 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
Security Take Away
It is easy to see the huge gap that remains between the countries of the world in terms of cyber security standards. While each of the best countries takes a different approach to establishing standards and practices, a few common threads transcend across their borders and these same commonalities are lacking in the world’s worst countries. The keys for success are simply:
- Collaboration between all stakeholders (government, citizens, private businesses, etc.);
- Constant revision of policies to reflect cyber security changes;
- Concentration on defending only the most sensitive pieces of the network.
Whether it is a country trying to enhance its cyber policies or a private organization, these best practices can be applied and will help keep them off the losing team in cyber security.