Which Asian Countries Have the Best and Worst Cybersecurity?

Priscilla Lee
Which Asian countries have the best and worst cybersecurity?

If the 2021 Colonial Pipeline hack was any indication, cybercrime can have a catastrophic impact on nations — potentially crippling key supply chains and putting many companies out of business.

In 2020 alone, an estimated 330 million people across 10 countries were victims of cybercrime.

The worst part is, some of these attacks leverage simple and unsophisticated technologies to cripple high-tech organisations.

Good cybersecurity begins at the policy level, however. When there’s a strong digital infrastructure along with adequate measures and support for businesses, they’re more likely to stay vigilant against possible cyber attacks.

Today, we’ll cover:

What’s Causing the Spike in Cyber Attacks?

The answers lie in our changing lifestyles, environment, and swift adoption of new technologies:

1. Growing Digital Economy

Did you know that the digital economy is worth S$15.66 trillion globally?  It’s equivalent to 15.5% of global GDP and has grown 2.5 times faster than global GDP over the past 15 years!

Although this digital economy creates a world of opportunity, it also opens doors for a whole host of syndicates to profit from it — illegally.  

2. Reliance on Tech Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Cybercrimes such as identity theft, embezzlement, and data breaches have increased by 600% because of the pandemic. It’s likely that the sudden crisis pushed too many companies into taking their businesses online without considering how to protect their operations from cyber threats.

3. Rise Of Ransomware-As-A-Service

Ransomware-As-A-Service (RaaS) is a subscription-based model in which hackers sell their services to ready buyers. This allows even non-tech-savvy folks to launch cyberattacks: as long as you can click the “checkout” button, you can use ransomware against someone.

Imagine you own a business and are working hard to gain market share. All it takes is one competitor using RaaS — and you may be permanently out of the game. Needless to say, this type of service has quickly multiplied the number of cybercrimes in the digital space.

Top 3 Asian Countries With the Best Cybersecurity Measures 

To get a sense of the countries with the best cybersecurity, let’s take a look at their Global Cybersecurity Index Scores: 

Global Cybersecurity Index 2020*

CountryGCI ScoreRank
South Korea98.521
New Zealand84.0410
Sri Lanka58.6515
Brunei Darussalam56.0716
Papua New Guinea26.3321
Solomon Islands7.0830
Source: ITU Publications

*The GCI is a measurement to promote global cybersecurity initiatives through comparison. It’s also through such comparisons that the countries could identify the areas of cybersecurity that require improvement and take action to move up the ranks. The index is derived from key five pillars: legal, technical, organizational, capacity building, and cooperation.

South Korea and Singapore Ranked First

South Korea – South Korea is one of the most digitally connected countries in the world and the government’s attempt to establish national cybersecurity goes as far back as the 1980s.

By 2019, its new National Cybersecurity Strategy led to increased efforts to strengthen the country’s digital infrastructure and extensive efforts were put into identifying and deploying 5G. The country even developed the Korea Global Cybersecurity Capability Assessment (GCCA), a tool used to assess its national competency level through comparison and analysis with other countries according to selected criteria.

Singapore – As a sea and air hub for the region as well as a financial centre of the world, the government naturally invests heavily in protecting the national digital infrastructure from cyber attacks.

As part of the Singapore Cybersecurity Strategy 2021, the country committed to further developing the cybersecurity ecosystem with more “Made-in-Singapore” cyber capabilities. They’ve also launched the Asean-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (ASCCE) for training national cyber-security teams.

Malaysia Ranked Second

The country maintains a Critical National Information Infrastructure portal and runs annual drills to ensure they’re ready to handle cyber attacks at all times.

3 Asian Countries with the Worst Cybersecurity Measures

According to Global Cybersecurity Index 2020, the three countries with the worst cybersecurity measures are:

  • Vanuatu (ranked 29th)
  • Solomon Islands (ranked 30th)
  • Afghanistan (ranked 32nd)

This could be in part because of the size of the countries: Vanatu and Solomon Islands have fewer than a million people combined.