For the world’s wealthiest countries, the risk of combat-related deaths is generally declining. However, a new report published by Deloitte found that even the wealthiest militaries are still not equipped to handle cyberattacks -- a serious problem, since cyberwarfare is on the rise.
Fighting a battle on land, sea or in air space is one thing, but for even the most sophisticated global defenses, cyberspace is still a largely uncharted territory. The report says that “higher-income spenders,” defined as nations with defense budgets that use more than 2 percent of the national GDP, such the United States, the U.K. and South Korea, are much more vulnerable to cyberattacks than countries like India, China or Russia, which are categorized as “lower-income.”
“The lower-income nations may be prepared to behave more aggressively in cyberspace because their economies appear much less vulnerable to cyberattack than their higher-income counterparts,” the report said. “The wide gap in vulnerability between higher-income nations -- where defense budgets are flat or declining -- and lower-income nations with rapidly increasing defense budgets may point toward an emerging defense challenge.”
While China is still considered a lower-income spender, the country is hoping to avoid falling into the same vulnerability trap that its higher-income counterparts have by aggressively pursuing defense strategies. China has made a public commitment to developing and advancing its cybersecurity capabilities. The report says lower-income spenders will have the tendency to develop “offensive [cyberspace] capabilities.”
China has already taken a tougher stance on foreign technology used within its borders. Though the company has been accused of protectionism -- giving favor to homegrown companies to compete for the country’s lucrative market -- cyberattacks have been a legitimate concern in China. At the beginning of June, the government announced the kickoff of "Cybersecurity Week," as part of a larger effort to raise awareness amid a growing hostile online environment.
“Cybersecurity isn’t just about national security and national development; [it] also concerns the immediate interests of every Internet user,” Lu Wei, the head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, told state-run Xinhua News Agency. The weeklong event occurred after a string of data breaches at Alipay, China’s biggest online payment platform and CTrip, an online travel booking site, experienced privacy issues. Additionally, a report by the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center found that data breaches tripled in 2014 compared to 2013.