Singapore has a ‘near-perfect’ approach to cybersecurity, says United Nations report

Island state ‘has a long history of cybersecurity initiatives’

Singapore has a near-perfect approach to cybersecurity, but many other rich countries have vulnerabilities in their defences, according to a United Nations survey published today. Wealth breeds cybercrime but it does not automatically guarantee cybersecurity, so governments need to make sure they are prepared, said the survey by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The UK comes 12th in the world, behind Norway, Japan, Russia, Canada, France, Georgia, Australia, Mauritius, Estonia, Oman, Malaysia and, in second place, the United States. The ranking was based on countries’ legal, technical and organisational institutions, their educational and research capabilities, and their cooperation in information-sharing networks.

“Cybersecurity is an ecosystem where laws, organisations, skills, cooperation and technical implementation need to be in harmony to be most effective,” said the survey. “The degree of inter-connectivity of networks implies that anything and everything can be exposed, and everything from national critical infrastructure to our basic human rights can be compromised. There is still an evident gap between countries in terms of awareness, understanding, knowledge and finally capacity to deploy the proper strategies, capabilities and programmes.”

The crucial first step was to adopt a national security strategy, but 50% of countries have none, the survey said. Among the countries that ranked higher than their economic development was 57th-placed North Korea, which was let down by its “cooperation” score but still ranked three spots ahead of much-richer Spain. The smallest rich countries also scored badly – Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino were all well down the second half of the table. The Vatican ranked 186th out of 195 countries in the survey. Equatorial Guinea scored zero.

About Singapore, the survey says: “The island state has a long history of cybersecurity initiatives. It launched its first cybersecurity master plan back in 2005. The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore was created in 2015 as a dedicated entity to oversee cybersecurity and the country issued a comprehensive strategy in 2016.”