Cyber security across the globe: which countries are cyber-safe?

People have been concerned about social, economic, and racial inequality for decades, but the latest statistics show that inequality in cyber security also exists. Not all countries are well-equipped to fight off different types of malware attacks, including fast-growing numbers of malware attacks, web application attacks, DDoS attacks, and cyber espionage. The fact that different threats are being built and spread across the world, leading to adverse consequences, has caused researchers to conduct studies on how well countries are prepared for cyber attacks.

The study on statistics of the 4th quarter of 2016 provided by has revealed that China, the most populous country, has the highest malware infection rates. Turkey was ranked second with a 42.88% infection rate compared to China, whose infection rate is 47.09%. Other countries poorly protected against malware are Taiwan, Guatemala, Ecuador, Russia, Peru, Mexico, and Venezuela. Interestingly, the United States are not included in these statistics. Other sources suggest that Russia is the most vulnerable to malware as well as Brazil and the United States.

According to another study based on malware detections from June to November 2016, the United States had the highest malware detection rate than any other country. On the continent scale, Europe is considered as the world leader in malware detections with three mostly targeted countries: France, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

Surprisingly, Sweden, which is approximately 21 times smaller than China with a respectively smaller computer number across the country, has been found to have a 20.03 infection rate, as suggests. Other counters classified as having relatively high malware infection rates include Norway, Finland, Denmark, Japan, Netherland, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The infection rates vary from 20.03% to 24.54%. Other sources provide a completely different layout of the least malware infected countries, including the Northern Marian Islands, Jersey, Cayman Islands, Togo, and some other countries where computer ownership is relatively low.

Ransomware, a type of malware encrypting file data, has recently become the most dangerous infection targeting both organizations and consumers as it is created and distributed at a brisk pace. If, for example, a botnet distributing malware goes offline, and the ransomware distribution stops, a new piece of ransomware is launched immediately to continue the black-hat hackers' missions. suggests that from 2015 to 2016, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Italy had the highest share of affected users, while the United States took the 10th position. The latest data suggest that the United States are mostly affected by ransomware distributors. It is believed that the United States are an easy target for Europe-based cyber gangs because of Americans' ideology and means to pay ransoms. Other countries ranked below the United States are Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Canada, Spain, India, and Australia. Nevertheless, on the continent scale, Europe is the leader leaving North America and Asia behind.

Web application attacks are also common in the cyber world as this digital field is not flawless. Improper coding errors can be utilized for remote code execution, SQL injection, cross cite scripting and other attacks, resulting in information disclosure or total system compromise. Such attacks are a great threat to organizations' security, and a chart on web application attacks in the 4th quarter of 2016 provided at clearly shows that the United States are the biggest target. Interestingly, it is stated that 28% of the IP addresses originated from the United States during the researched period.

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks are another big concern for various institutions, including banks, educational institutions, governments, healthcare, manufacturing and other fields. DDoS attacks are carried out in an attempt to make an online server or service inoperable using a network of infected computers (bots). A source based on data collected from June 2016 to November 2016 suggests that the biggest number of botnets was found in Asia (61.15%) and Europe (14.97%). Several sources suggest that Canada and the United States are the biggest targets of DDoS attacks, the vast majority of which are launched from China.

Cyber espionage, or cyber spying, is an act of stealing information stored on computer and IT networks. This type of spying is carried out with the help of spyware which surreptitiously enters targeted computers. The attackers seek to illicit confidential information or cause damage to the infected system. The United States are considered as having the biggest infection rate, and China is regarded as the major rival. It is publicly discussed that the Chinese government targets state secrets, businesses, weapon programs, and other highly intellectual information. China and Russia are a believed to be among the most active nations related to cyber attack as reviews of some high-profile branches suggest.

Nowadays, restrictions on Internet freedom are not a novelty. Due to the advantage of spreading information quickly, some countries has become very strict on access to public media. Two-thirds of all Internet users have been estimated to live in countries where criticism of public institutions, including authorities, is subject to censorship. Data show that Internet freedom has declined because governments continue keeping control of access to social media and communication apps. For example, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube, and Telegram are the top 5 restricted platforms because of political, social or religious content.

Geographically, Estonia and Iceland are the two countries having equal Internet freedom. Canada, the United States, and Germany follow right behind. On the other hand, China is known as having the biggest authority over the Internet. It is important to note that North Korea is usually not assessed as it owns a separate network and a few websites that can be seen outside the country. Syria and Iran offers Internet users slightly more access to the Internet than China.

Although the world's biggest countries are suffering cyber attacks, they are not the most vulnerable. According to a ranking made in 2016, Belgium was the most cyber-attack-susceptible country. Tajikistan was ranked second, while the United Stated took the 14th position.

Overall, the answer to the question what countries are the best at keeping cyber attacks at bay changes from time to time. New vulnerabilities and cyber assault prevention methods have to be found to keep up with the fast-changing cyber world.