The internet is a global resource, available to anyone with an internet connection and a connected device. Unfortunately, not every country is equally safe from online threats. Depending on the culture of a region as well as policies affecting online behavior and use, some countries are much better at protecting their citizens from web-based attacks and fraud — and some countries are much, much worse.
Using criteria like the number of devices infected with malware and the percent of attacks launched from a region, here is a review of the best and worst places in the world for cybersecurity as well as what web users within those regions can do to stay safe.
Most Dangerous Countries
Though many tech headlines are dedicated to highlighting the malicious (and state-sponsored) hacking groups located in countries like Russia and China, the truth is that the least cyber-secure country in the world is Tajikistan, a country in central Asia that China borders to the east and Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan to the north, south, and west, respectively.
Tajikistan earns the title of least cyber secure because it has the highest percentage of users attacked by almost every type of malware: banking malware, crypto miners, ransomware Trojans, and more. Users within Tajikistan seem to be particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks, likely because the country has a young and undeveloped digital culture. Only about one-third of the population has regular access to an internet-connected device, and the government does a poor job of educating computer users about online threats.
Other countries with high rates of attack include similarly poorly digitally developed nations, such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, and Honduras. Countries that have well-established cyber landscapes, like the U.S., Russia, and China, are more likely to suffer high rates of spam emails and malicious mailings — or else perpetrate the largest number of attacks against members of foreign nations.
Most Secure Countries
Perhaps it should not be surprising that the safest country for online activity is also among the safest countries period. For years, Denmark has ranked remarkably low in terms of the number of devices attacked by malware as well as the number of attacks originating within the country. In direct contrast to Tajikistan, Denmark maintains low attack rates despite nearly every Danish household containing at least one internet-connected device.
There are likely many factors that impact Denmark’s high cybersecurity score, including its culture. Denmark has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, perhaps because it focuses on early interventions and precautionary initiatives that prevent delinquent behavior from becoming criminal. Additionally, a narrow wealth gap between the richest and poorest residents means that it is little for criminals to gain. The Danish government works hard to keep the population informed about both online and offline risks; ultimately, there is no culture supporting cybercriminal activities in the region.
While other nations with similarly high adoption of digital technology and low rates of crime, like Sweden and Finland, appear on the list of most cyber-secure countries, there are other more interesting winners, as well. Users in Haiti also experience low rates of malware attacks, and there are no spam emails originating in Haiti. As yet, it is difficult for experts to predict which nations will have strong cybersecurity and which will be weak.
Best Security Practices
Regardless of where in the world a user lives — or where they travel — there are more than a few practices they should adopt to stay safe from malware and other forms of cyberattack. Every computer should have antivirus software that is actively scanning for malware threats. This is especially important for devices using unreliable internet connections, such as those in public places. Users in particularly risky regions might also take advantage of virtual private networks (VPNs) which make it almost impossible for cyber criminals to identify a device using the web. These tools as well as adequate cyber hygiene — which involves using strong passwords, avoiding risky websites, and more — should keep web users safe no matter where they roam.
Every nation could be doing more to protect its users from digital harm, including passing more legislation to govern online behavior. Until then, users around the world will be largely responsible for their own cybersecurity.