UK Rank Favourably in a Cyber-Defence Survey

A cyber defence survey which was conducted by the Security and Defence Agenda think tank rated the UK cyber-readiness four stars out of five. This ranks the UK alongside countries such as Germany and the USA and suggests that recent initiatives that have been implemented have improved the UKs cyber-readiness.

Israel, Finland and Sweden led the way with a rank of four and a half stars out of five whilst Mexico languished behind in last place with a total of two stars out of five.

The main focal points that the rankings were based on consisted of the country having sufficient firewalls and antivirus protection and factors such as the level of education on cyber-security.

The Defence Agenda think tank team based there rankings on the perceived quality of cyber-readiness which is seen as a massive positive of conducting the research. Raj Samani, McAfee’s chief technology officer stated “The subjectiveness of the report is its biggest strength. What it does is give the perception of cyber-readiness by those individuals who kind of understand and work in cyber security on a day-in, day-out basis.”

So far Israel has set the bench mark for cyber-defence as it is reported that the country receive over 1,000 cyber-attacks every minute but do not suffer a huge amount of disruption or damage. Isaac Ben-Israel, senior security advisor to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated “The hacktivist group Anonymous carries out lots of attacks but they don’t cause much damage. The real threat is from states and major crime organisations.” Ben-Israel also revealed that the country has set up a cyber-taskforce which assesses the threats to key infrastructure such as power and water plants.

Meanwhile, the prominent gang and drug problems in Mexico have been blamed for their poor results. It is widely regarded that such problems have forced the government to focus their efforts on improving the situation and therefore they haven’t had the time or funds to look at implementing policies to improve their cyber defence infrastructure.

The report commended the efforts made by the UK government to improve the country’s cyber defence such as an investment program which is worth £650 million. Not everyone is happy with this investment and what the money is being for. Peter Sommer who is an information security expert argued “A great deal depends on co-operation from the private sector, which controls about 80% of the critical national infrastructure. Over half of the new funding will go to the ‘secret vote’, the intelligence agencies, where value for money will be difficult to investigate. I would have preferred more emphasis on public education – helping potential victims help themselves.”

The report concluded that in order to improve cyber-defence, there needs to be better communication between countries and a willingness to share data. The report also stated that cross boarder law enforcements needs to be improved and given more power.

Samani argued “Cybercriminals route their connection through multiple different countries. If criminals are particularly clever, they go through countries where they know there isn’t any co-operation. The bad guys share information – we need to do the same as well.”

These suggestions have been constantly acknowledged as the most efficient and effective way to improve cyber defence but the feasibility of it is very unrealistic. Dr Joss Wright who is from the Oxford Internet Institute argues “They’re recommendations that people have been saying for maybe 10 years. I would love to see good information sharing but when you’re talking about national security, there’s a culture of not sharing. They’re not suddenly going to change 70, 100, 1000 years of military thinking.”


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