The digital arms race is already underway, according to many global experts and their opinions included in McAfee's global cyber defense report.
At least 57 percent of the study participants concurred with this point, while another 36 percent went so far as to argue that cyber security is more important than missile defense.
For reference, the report, conducted by the Brussels-based Security & Defense Agenda think tank, is based upon responses from 80 policymakers and cyber-security experts in government, business and academic sectors in 27 countries -- not to mention anonymous surveys of more than 250 world leaders in 35 countries.
Out of the 23 nations ranked within the study, the smaller ones proved to be more prepared for cyber threats -- most notably Israel, Sweden and Finland. The least prepared were found to be China, Russia, Italy and Poland.
Phyllis Schneck, chief technology officer for the global public sector at McAfee, explained the heavily looming threats in the report:
The core problem is that the cyber criminal has greater agility, given large funding streams and no legal boundaries to sharing information, and can thus choreograph well-orchestrated attacks into systems. Until we can pool our data and equip our people and machines with intelligence, we are playing chess with only half the pieces.
Unfortunately, it seems the private sector is even less prepared as only 20 percent of that group affirmed taking part in cyber security exercises and precautions, while 56 percent of respondents admitted that we're on the cusp of a skills shortage among the growing cyber workforce.
So what is there really to be afraid of? Plenty, and 43 percent pointed towards damage or disruption to critical infrastructure as the single greatest threat posed by cyber attacks with wide economic consequences.
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