Singapore is among the five Asian countries most vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to a new report released this week by global consulting firm Deloitte.
According to the company’s annual Asia-Pacific Defense Outlook, Singapore, along with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea – dubbed the “Cyber Five” – are judged to be nine times more vulnerable to cyberattacks relative to their larger Asian counterparts China and India. Among the Cyber Five, South Korea topped the list with a cyber vulnerability score of 884 (compared to 329 in 2008), with Singapore scoring 399 (compared to 224 in 2008).
The report’s conclusions are based on a Cyber Vulnerability Index designed by Deloitte, which measures how extensively each economy relies on Internet-based interactions. According to the firm, the data was based on compiled historical data from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, which allowed it to gauge metrics such as countries’ rate of cellphone subscribers, secure Internet servers, fixed broadband subscribers, and rate of Internet usage. The index, Deloitte admitted, does not include other key indicators of vulnerability, including the level of security and countermeasures in place and the number of military and government systems exposed to the internet.
The wide gap in cyber vulnerability between the Cyber Five and other Asia-Pacific countries could pose a future challenge for cyber defense and offense, Deloitte said. For example, lower vulnerability nations like China and India may calculate that they can afford to be more aggressive in cyberspace because they believe their rivals will suffer relatively more damage from cyberattacks than they might.
“The lower-vulnerability nations may therefore by prepared to behave more aggressively in cyberspace, because their potential adversaries are much more exposed to Internet-based damage,” the report said.
As for the Cyber Five, the report argued that these nations would have to rely on policies that extend beyond just collaborative approaches or tit-for-tat retaliation in cyberspace that might work either for less vulnerable or less-advanced economies who would suffer less Internet-based damage. A more diverse policy mix, with more varied tools such as economic sanctions or other trade measures applied disproportionately or unpredictably, may be required for these countries to defend themselves.
“Threatening disproportionate or unpredictable retaliation for cyberattacks, including responses outside cyberspace, for example, trade measures or other economic sanctions, may be essential elements of a rational cyber policy for the highly-vulnerable Cyber Five,” the report said.