China, India lag in cyber-readiness

Asian giants rank low in terms of cyber preparedness, with China lacking coordination in cyber strategies and India lacking cybersecurity awareness, new report finds.

China and India are lagging behind in cyberdefense and the ability to defend themselves against emerging attacks.

According to a report by McAfee and the Belgium-based Security & Defense Agenda (SDA) released today, China had a low level of preparedness for cyberattacks with a rating of 3 out of 5 along with Italy, Poland and Russia. India received a lower rating of 2.5 out of 5 on its state of readiness, along with Brazil and Romania.

The SDA based its research from interviews conducted with 80 policy makers and cybersecurity experts in government, business and academia in 27 countries.  It also anonymously surveyed 250 world leaders in 35 countries to identify key debate areas and trends for governments and organizations to understand how their cyberdefense posture compared to those of other countries and organizations.

The perceived quality of a country's cyber-readiness was ranked in an infographic. Obtaining a good score would depend on having basic measures such as adequate firewalls and antivirus protection, and more complex matters such as a well-informed governance and education.

Not much was known about China's information warfare and cyber capabilities, though the country has military training centers that include cyberwar training programme, the report said, citing reports which stated the Chinese military took orders from the president but did not report to the civilian government.

Peiran Wang, a visiting scholar at Brussels' Free University, said in the report that China lacked a "coherant legal and regulatory system" and did not have enhanced cooperation between the departments. "The Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of State Security and even the military are involved and they don't even communicate well," Wang said. 

As for India, Cherian Samuel, the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) at New Delhi noted that technology came suddenly and quickly, and "no one was taught even the basic facts of cybersecurity".

"People in India have to understand basic security like pin numbers and passwords," Kamlesh Bajaj of the Data Security of India added in the report, noting that the premium on Internet privacy was low and data control tended to be neglected.