The Risky Business of Being Over-Exposed to Online Cybersecurity Threats


If your business is on the internet in Hong Kong, Samoa, or Zimbabwe, you are operating in one of the three countries in the world that are “most exposed” to cyberattacks, according to a June 14 report from security data and analytics software company Rapid7.

Cybersecurity threats aren’t restricted by physical borders. Cyberattacks can happen anywhere and be associated with any device connected to the internet.

For example, an October 2016 distributed denial-of-service attack tied to a hijacked network of internet of things devices affected websites across the U.S. and around the world. The May WannaCry ransomware attack hit more than 300,000 computers in more than 150 countries, with cybercriminals planting malware that locked user access to data unless a bitcoin ransom was paid. 

In this hostile world internet connectivity, every country is at risk, and every user is potentially exposed. But not all exposed users are equal.

Countries with internet services that either don’t offer or aren’t suited to offer modern cryptographic protection end up being most at risk. But strong internet services aren’t necessarily tied to a country’s economic status. Rapid7 found no correlation between internet exposure and a country’s gross domestic product. 

Rapid7 detailed steps nations can take to reduce their cyberattack exposure.

Belgium is a case in point. Last year, the European nation topped Rapid7’s list as the most exposed country in the world. But in the 2017 study, Belgium wasn’t even among the top 50 most exposed countries. The study attributed the dramatic improvement to a fundamental change—a drop in internet protocol-addressable, public internet servers offering exposed services. 

Given the global threat posed by ubiquitous internet connectivity, it isn’t surprising that people are becoming more concerned about their internet privacy. According to the 2017 Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust, 55 percent of international respondents are more concerned about their online privacy than they were in 2016.

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