GENEVA -- Only about half of all countries have a cybersecurity strategy or are in the process of developing one, and even the world's most powerful countries show major gaps in their preparedness for cyberattacks, according to a UN report released on July 5.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) unveiled the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) 2017 on Wednesday, a continuation of the first version was issued in 2014. It measures ITU member states' commitment to cybersecurity, hoping to motivate them to improve their cybersecurity and raise awareness for the need to start bilateral, multilateral and international cooperation.
The report said only about 38 percent of countries have a published cybersecurity strategy, while an additional 12 percent are in the process of developing one.
Singapore tops the index list for its long history of cybersecurity initiatives. It launched its first cybersecurity master plan back in 2005, and created a Cyber Security Agency in 2015 as a dedicated entity to oversee cybersecurity. In 2016, Singapore issued a comprehensive strategy to tackled online security issues.
Of the top 10, three countries are from Asia and the Pacific, two each from Europe and the Americas, and one each from Africa, the Arab States, and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Besides Singapore, the rest in the top 10 include the US, Malaysia, Oman, Estonia, Mauritius, Australia, Georgia, France and Canada.
The survey finds that despite the massive gap in wealth, developing countries like Malaysia and Oman are stronger in cybersecurity than some developed ones such as France and Canada.
There is also a major gap in cybersecurity among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The US was ranked number 2; France, 8; Russia, 10; United Kingdom, 12; and China, 32.
The index also showed the improvement and strengthening of the five pillars of the ITU Global Cybersecurity Agenda: legal, technical, organizational, capacity building and international cooperation.
"Cybersecurity is an increasingly important part of our life today, and the degree of interconnectivity of networks implies that anything and everything can be exposed, and everything from national critical infrastructure to our basic human rights can be compromised," the report concluded.
Last year alone, nearly one percent of all emails sent were essentially malicious attacks, the highest rate in recent years, according to ITU.
READ: New strain of ransomware cripples networks
Last month, a cyberattack crippled tens of thousands of machines around the world and it is still unclear who was behind it. (Xinhua/PNA)