A new benchmarking study of 19 of the world’s 20 leading economies found that the United Kingdom and the United States lead Group of 20 (G20) countries in their ability to withstand cyber attacks and to deploy the digital infrastructure necessary for a productive and secure economy. The Cyber Power Index, developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton, found that several major economies—Argentina, Indonesia, Russia and Saudi Arabia—do not have cybersecurity plans and do not appear to be developing them.
Overall, the top five countries exhibiting cyber power, as measured by the index—the UK; the US; Australia; Germany; and Canada—illustrate that developed Western countries are leading the way into the digital era. The top five performers also rate highly across the board, ranking in the top seven in all four categories. The G20’s last member, the EU, was not analyzed.
Mike McConnell (Vice chairman, Booz Allen Hamilton): Many define a nation’s cyber power simply like other domains such as land, air or space. While cyber is a domain, a nation’s capabilities must be measured by more than their military might alone.
The leading emerging market countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRICs), have some room for improvement; out of the 19 economies, they rank 10th, 14th, 17th, and 13th, respectively. There is also a wide discrepancy between the top and the bottom of the index. The UK, the top performer, scores around three times the amount of points on a scale of 0 to 100 as the worst performer, Saudi Arabia.
Among other conclusions from the data:
• The US has the most supportive economic and social context for fostering cyber power according to the index. This is driven by high tertiary education enrollment, research and development (R&D) investment, and an open trade environment. Asia’s rising influence is also apparent in this category, as China leads the trade indicator, while Japan and South Korea fill the number one and two positions, respectively, in technical skills.
• The gap in cyber capability between the U.S. and other countries is closing. While the U.S. has a broad and deep cyber power base, other nations such as South Korea and Japan are aggressively adopting greater levels of bandwidth and communications stability.
• China has a large population and a powerful military. As a result the nation is often considered to be a cyber power. In reality, the Cyber Index found that the country’s true level of cyber power is in reality quite modest. Going forward, other countries are expected to be added to the Index, which could show the power of small countries such as Estonia. In contrast to China, Estonia is relatively tiny and hosts a modest military, yet that country’s well known ability to integrate advanced technology into its society could make a telling comparison.
• Germany leads the legal and regulatory framework category with a near perfect score (99.3 out of 100), followed by other Western countries that also performed well in the overall index. Germany is one of only five countries (the others being the UK; the US; France; and Japan) to have both a comprehensive national cyber plan and a comprehensive cybersecurity plan.
• Prioritisation of ICT access is higher in the developed world. There is still a clear divide between developed countries and emerging markets as measured by access to Internet, mobile phones, and WiFi. The UK, US, and Germany lead Information Communications Technology (ICT) access, while Mexico, Indonesia, India, China, and South Africa have the lowest access scores. An exception is South Korea, which is fifth, despite having strong government policy towards improving access.
• The G20 countries have made limited technological progress within key industries. Australia is the top performer within the industry application category, which measures the ability of different industries (energy, health, transportation, government, and e-commerce) to leverage ICT developments, including security advancements. As an indication of uneven technological development across industries, Australia ranks first in the category overall, but only scores well within the electronic health indicator.
The Cyber Power Index measures both the success of digital adoption and cyber security, and the degree to which the economic and regulatory environment in G20 nations promote national cyber power. The Index allows visitors to compare the cyber power rankings of the G20 countries on a scale of 0-100 with 100 being most favorable.
Each country’s ranking is a weighted mean of scores from four categories: Legal and Regulatory Environment; Economic and Social Context; Technology Infrastructure; and Industry Application. Each category features at least four underlying indicators, many of which are composed of sub-indicators.
The European Union, the newest member of the G20, was not included in the study.