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Most countries unprepared for cyberattack

Most countries unprepared for cyberattack

Posting in Government

Only five of the top 19 world economies are prepared for a cyberattack, according to a new report.

It's 2012: is your country ready for cyberwar? Even if you live in one of the world's top 19 economic powers, the chances are against you, according to a cybersecurity report released on Thursday by the Economist Intelligence Unit and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Of the countries rated, which include all the G-20 major economies minus the European Union, only five -- Germany, the UK, US, France and Japan -- have "comprehensive" cyber and cybersecurity plans, according to the report. Four countries have no plans whatsoever, seven have just begun drafting cybersecurity legislation, and, overall, most of the plans are "either vague, patchy, poorly enforced, or poorly implemented, or have a combination of these defects." (Download .pdf of full report.)

The report hinges on the idea that, as governments and economies connect and interact over the web, they become more powerful -- but at the expense of security risks. No longer is war waged just with missiles, but computer viruses and hackers can infiltrate the government and its weaponry.

These threats are very real. In October, a computer virus was found recording information sent to military attack drones at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. And who can forget the Stuxnet computer worm, which infiltrated Iranian computers controlling the country's Iranian refineries, perhaps with US involvement?

The US ranked number two in terms of cyberattack preparedness in the report, which is not a surprise. The US military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has many projects in the works to protect the government's computer networks from cyberterrorism.

But despite some high-ranking scores, particularly in Western countries, the message from the report authors across the board is clear: everyone, get your cybersecurity act together.

For more information, I highly recommend checking out the group's interactive online report to learn more about the methods and scores per country.

Photo: University of Maryland Press Releases/Flickr

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Hannah Waters

Weekend Editor

Weekend Editor Hannah Waters is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. She writes a blog on the Scientific American network, and has written for Nature Medicine and The Scientist. She holds Biology and Latin degrees from Carleton College. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure