International study ranks Singapore second for cyber-security literacy among population

Singapore was lauded in particular for integrating cyber security thoroughly into its formal education system. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Singapore has been placed second in an international study that examined the cyber-security literacy of the population in 49 countries and the European Union.

Switzerland came out top and the United Kingdom followed Singapore.

The Cyber Risk Literacy and Education Index, published by management consultancy Oliver Wyman in October, looked at how countries handled cyber security across five categories, including in education and the labour market.

It also assessed how aware a country's population was of cyber-security risks and the degree of access to technology.

Australia and the Netherlands rounded off the top five in the list. The United States was 10th, while China was second from the bottom, in 49th.

Singapore was lauded in particular for integrating cyber security thoroughly into its formal education system, including at the primary and secondary school levels. It came out tops in this category.

"Crucially, cyber security instruction is also incorporated into subjects beyond ICT (info-communications and technology) or computer science into subjects such as social studies, enhancing the quality of instruction," said Oliver Wyman partner Alon Cliff-Tavor on Thursday (Oct 22).

"Many countries fail to integrate cyber-security instruction across disciplines, and often do not include the subject in primary schooling curricula at all."

The index's authors said increasing people's awareness and motivation on cyber issues should be a key element of every country's defensive strategy, as studies show that most cyber-security issues stem from human error.

Singapore ranked second for awareness of and demand for cyber-security skills in the labour market and third for the population's commitment to practising cyber security.

Mr Cliff-Tavor pointed to the Republic's high rates of employment growth in sectors relevant to cyber security, and how studies by software firms Kaspersky and Microsoft found that computers in Singapore experienced lower rates of malware encounters and local infections compared with other countries.

"(This indicates) a cyber-literate population with the ability to prevent such events. Residents of Singapore were also found to carefully manage their e-mails, passwords, and use of browsers compared with populations of many other nations," he said.

But Singapore found itself in the middle of the pack in the index at 19th in the government policy category, which looked at the long-term vision of countries' national cyber-security strategies.

Mr Cliff-Tavor said Singapore's national cyber-security strategy has a broad coverage of important topics from education to workforce development, but does not include "strict qualitative or quantitative metrics and benchmarks to track success and ensure accountability".

"This would be rare for governments to do in general. We have only seen Switzerland and Estonia (do this) as the prime examples," he added.

"While governments set appropriate priorities and goals, they consistently fail to commit the resources necessary for their success. Committing funding and updates on progress to ensure accountability are lacking in many geographies."

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