Ukraine’s cybersecurity preparedness surpasses Europe’s average, shows study

Cyber security. By Jefferson Santos from Unsplash

Cybersecurity company Surfshark released a study looking into the cybersecurity of 15 countries that regained their independence after the fall of the Soviet Union. The analysis presents that the Baltic States and Ukraine have the strongest cybersecurity preparedness, with an index higher than the European average and Australia, Canada, and Russia. The autocratic regimes in the former USSR have been found to have weaker indexes, suggesting that democratic former Soviet countries put more focus on cybersecurity to protect themselves.

“Surfshark’s study found that the global cybersecurity index average stands at 42.71, whereas the former Soviet bloc countries reach an average of almost 20% higher,” – explains Agneska Sablovskaja, Data Researcher at Surfshark. “Four out of 15 post-soviet countries rank exceptionally high on cybersecurity and boast some of the strongest defence capabilities in the world.”

Baltic states and Ukraine surpass global and European cybersecurity index averages. Lithuania, with a score of 93.51, is first among the pack. Its index is 28% better than the European average, followed by Estonia (90.91). Ultimately, both countries demonstrate much higher cybersecurity preparations than Australia, France, Canada, the US, the UK and Russia.

Ukraine (75.32) shares the spot on the index with Latvia, another Baltic country. Both countries’ scores beat the Europe average by 3% and surpass Russia’s index of 71.43 while outperforming economically-affluent countries such as Australia, and Canada. Ukraine’s GDP per capita of 4K USD is almost 16 times lower than Australia’s GDP. Nevertheless, Ukraine’s cybersecurity index is 12% better than Australia’s. 

According to the analysis of the data from the Center of Strategic and International Studies, Ukraine has faced the most cyberattacks from Russian entities among the post-soviet countries since 2015. Russian hackers often targeted governmental bodies, military, and infrastructure with the full arsenal of tools, from phishing to DDoS attacks and malware. To help ward off the threat from the East, the country seems to have developed robust cybersecurity defences, country comparisons show.

Former Soviet nations which maintained autocratic regimes have been found to have an average (36.2) almost twice lower than that of formerly Russia-occupied democracies (67.53). Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan are in the bottom three.

Russia’s score stands at 71.43, 2.5% lower than the European average. However, it shares similar scores to countries such as Singapore, and Austria, and is slightly better than Israel, Japan, Norway, and many other economically-strong countries. Nevertheless, its current defences may be challenged due to the massive increase in cyberattacks targeting Russia. In fact, Russia had the most data breaches in the first quarter of 2022, with close to 3.6M internet users affected and a 136% spike in cases after Ukraine’s invasion in February.

The cybersecurity index ranking in former-USSR countries in descending order are: Lithuania (93.51), Estonia (90.91), Latvia (75.32), Ukraine (75.32), Russia (71.43), Belarus (53.25), Georgia (51.95), Moldova (50.65), Kazakhstan (48.05), Azerbaijan (37.66), Uzbekistan (36.36), Armenia (35.06) Kyrgyzstan (24.68), Tajikistan (10.39) and Turkmenistan (7.79).

METHODOLOGY

This study is based on the cybersecurity indexes published by NCSI (National Cyber Security Index). The organization rates countries based on a comprehensive set of criteria. This study looked into post-Soviet countries’ cybersecurity index (2022) and data breaches that occurred from January to March 2021 (Q1). The data was aggregated and analyzed in accordance with the population in corresponding countries and the overall regional situation. 

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