As the global cyber-crime market skyrockets and even the mafia turns to organized cyber-crime, which countries are facing the worst cyber security challenges? Some of the players in the global cyber threat intelligence chess game may surprise you (many might not).
Here’s a fun and informational look at the malware, spam, botnets and other cyber threats emanating around the globe (and headed your way!).
China is a global leader in…well, everything these days. From finances to education, the world’s most populated nation has been overtaking its competitors in a growing number of markets. Technology is no exception, and you cannot discuss cyber security challenges without taking a look at China.
In 2009 the security firm Sophos released figures that said China hosted approximately 11.2% of malware on the web. Now that figure may be as high as 30%, with Chinese hackers making big bucks on such attacks as the recent Android phone malware.
Most Chinese sites hosting infectious malware likely steal your info or hijack your computer to send spam emails. These types of attacks, called “botnets” are like additional employees: each computer you infect, no matter where it is in the world, spreads its cyber infection to other computers.
In fact, botnets spread like a fishing net over so much of the world, tracking the source of the content is nearly impossible. The real way the source country might even be identified is by the language of the source coding: a large number of global computers have now had their first lessons in Mandarin Chinese.
Brazil made headlines when the Rio de Janeiro Olympics were plagued by cyber-crime and digital attacks. Even before the Olympics, Brazil topped the charts as the 2nd largest cyber-crime generator in the world.
An estimated 14.2 % of all malware emanates from Brazil, a nation accounting for less than 3% of the world’s total population.
Poland ranks 36th in the world’s population, only about 1/2 of one percent. Despite their small size, it may surprise you to learn that Poland’s second largest export is electronic equipment. This tech-savvy nation also has a single internet service provider (ISP) that singlehandedly accounts for 5% of the world’s spam.
Overall, Europe doesn’t produce anywhere near as many cyber threats as Asia or North America, but one nation that spans two continents has been keeping cyber intelligence feeds busy.
When it comes to malware, approximately 4.1% reportedly comes from Russia. Not much, really. Russia seems busy with other cyber-crimes, such as:
• Hacking the Democratic National Convention
• Hacking the Clinton campaign
• Hacking US voter databases
• Hacking reporters for the New York Times
• Hacking the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The list could go on and on. While most of these attacks seem politically motivated, what is less clear is Russia’s agenda: is this just one nation spying on another, or an attempt to manipulate the US political process?
The United States
It seems that no one gets hacked more than the United States. Why? Well, the US is the “land of opportunity” for the key reasons hackers hack:
1. Money—the primary motivation for cyber-crime, like other criminal activity, is just plain money. The United States is reportedly the world’s richest nation (though also the most unequal).
2. Hactivism—when not motivated financially, but rather to disrupt the seemingly corrupt political system, hackers are sometimes called “hactivists.” Among hactivists the United States can seem like a beacon of corruption, deserving of disruption. The nation’s largest corporations with the most recognizable brands are often the most targeted.
3. Espionage—Hacking-for-hire by governments and corporations is often about intellectual property, corporate advantage, trade secrets or national security. In each of these categories, the United States and its corporations are the big targets, the whales in the phishing schemes.
Before you start feeling too badly for the United States, however, and seeing it as the victim of worldwide cyber bullying, keep in mind the US also is the biggest producer of malware, spam and viruses in the world. So while the big fish might be the US, Uncle Sam is also the fisherman.
Cyber security intelligence motivations are best examined in light of considering India. India has one of the largest populations on earth. It is a high tech society, where many U.S. companies outsource jobs.
Despite these facts, very little cyber threats emanate from India and India doesn’t seem to have much of a cyber-threat challenge at all.
Why is that?
Though no one can say for sure, perhaps cultural differences make cyber-crime less appealing in India than some other countries.
Why Turn to Cyber Crime?
Without a national ethic opposed to cyber-crime, why do so many countries have such a cyber threat problem? Why turn to cyber-crime at all?
Speculations vary, but some factors include:
• Scarcity of legitimate IT jobs—A cybercrime boss in Russia can make $90k/year with ransomeware alone. That’s in a nation where the average monthly income is just $500. In such nations if you graduate with a degree in a computer-related field, or even just have a knack for computers, cyber-crime can pay exponentially better than a legit job.
• Government funding—Speaking of pay, state-sponsored cyber threats mean big bucks for hacking. Add the hactivist element, where you might truly believe in your cause, and government hacking jobs can have appeal.
• Insulation from the law—cyber-crime is difficult to track, and even more difficult to prosecute. Attacking a nation from the outside often means protection from internally applicable law.
Given the many nations involved and the scale of the problem, cyber security challenges have made the world flat.