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Scientists reveal nations most vulnerable to cyberthreats

11/03/2016 by

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New research has revealed that China, Saudi Arabia, India, Russia and South Korea are some of the world’s most vulnerable nations when it comes to cyberattacks. V.S. Subrahmanian, the University of Maryland’s professor of computer sciences, collated computer security data from around the world in an attempt to identify how policies may need to change in coming years.

As well as highlighting some of the most at-risk countries, it was also shown that the US was rated as the 11th safest of the 44 studied nations. A number of Scandinavian nations, including Finland, Norway and Demark, also found a place towards the top of the list.

Talking about the use of the research, Subrahmanian explained: “Our goal was to characterise how vulnerable different countries were, identify their current cybersecurity policies and determine how those policies might need to change in response to this new information.”

The publication comes at an important time in the war against online breaches. The number of damaging cyberattacks continues to rise, with new threats appearing every day. Whilst some nations have prepared themselves well to deal with these attacks, others are limited in their skills to ward off threats from rogue nations, criminals and terrorists.

As part of the two-year study, over 20 billion automatically generated reports were analysed by researchers. These stemmed from 4 million computers around the world and were created by Symantec anti-virus software, which provided data on an automatic basis. The list of rankings were then based on a number of factors, including how many machines were attacked in each nation, and whether a computer was attacked multiple times.

The principle threats to people’s machines include Trojans, viruses and worms. However, it was discovered that the US had a high percentage of misleading software when compared to other countries with a similar gross domestic product. These programs include fake disk clean-up utilities and antivirus programmes. As a result, one of the report’s recommendations is that the US places a higher priority upon education so that online users understand and can recognise misleading software and similar threats.

Former head of Israel’s National Cyber Bureau and Chair of the Israeli Space Agency Isaac Ben-Israel wrote as part of the publication’s forward: “People – even experts – often have gross misconceptions about the relative vulnerability (to cyberattack) of certain countries. The authors of this book succeed in empirically refuting many of those wrong beliefs.” 

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