Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Small EU countries are the most cybersafe for remote workers

EU countries offer the highest level of cybersecurity for remote workers, with smaller and less wealthy EU countries dominating the top of the list.

According to a new NordLayer report, Slovakia is the most cybersafe country for remote workers, followed by Lithuania, Germany, Estonia, and Greece. Wealthy countries like the US and the UK are lower down on the list. The report evaluates 66 countries in total.

Here are the top 10 most cybersafe countries for remote work:

  1. Slovakia
  2. Lithuania
  3. Germany
  4. Estonia
  5. Greece
  6. Croatia
  7. Poland
  8. Serbia
  9. Belgium
  10. Spain

The full list is available here: https://nordlayer.com/global-remote-work-index/

The cybersecurity index was calculated by evaluating countries’ infrastructure capacity, cybercrime threat response, and legal measures. It is part of NordLayer’s Global Remote Work Index (GRWI), which also evaluates countries’ economic and social conditions, digital and physical infrastructure, and Covid-19 response.

What do the top countries have in common?

EU countries are at the top of the list, taking  the first 18 consecutive positions. Small and less wealthy countries like Slovakia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Greece demonstrate outstanding results, taking up 4 of the top 5 positions (Germany comes in at 3rd place).

Since the highest-ranking countries are from the EU, they all fall under the requirements of the GDPR – the strictest data protection law in the world. This may explain why the top countries excel in laws relating to the protection of digital services and personal data. Additionally, the top 5 countries have sturdy cyber crisis management plans and have established special government units for cybercrime detection and response.

Why are wealthy countries ranking so low?

Five of the wealthiest countries in the world – the United States (19th), China (55th), the United Kingdom (33rd), Japan (29th) and Canada (30th) – appear quite low on the list. Even though these countries have high GDPs and seem to be some of the most technologically advanced in the world, they still lag behind in cybersecurity.

These wealthy but low-ranking countries all have shortcomings in either their cyber crisis management or incident response protocols. They also lack the proper legal measures to ensure the security of their remote workers. For instance, cybersecurity requirements for digital service providers are ill-defined in the US, the UK, Canada, and Japan, and the e-identification systems in the US, Canada, Japan, and China are underdeveloped.

What does the cybersecurity index mean for remote workers?

“At the start of the pandemic, working remotely meant working from home. Today, with the absence of Covid-19-related travel restrictions, many remote employees choose to work from abroad. Working from a foreign country may be exciting, but it can also bring loads of uncertainty, from cybersecurity to socioeconomic conditions to Covid-19 response. The Global Remote Work Index can minimize these uncertainties and guide people in choosing their remote work destinations,” says Juta Gurinaviciute, chief technology officer at NordLayer.

“The cybersecurity index, in particular, can help people understand how vulnerable they’ll be in a foreign country’s cyberspace. But a weak cybersecurity score doesn’t mean your hands are tied. It just shows how important it is to be responsible online. By staying informed, employees and employers can take control of their online security and work together to create a cybersafe environment regardless of location.”

How to stay cybersafe when working remotely

According to Gurinaviciute, no matter how high a country ranks in the cybersecurity index, you still need to be careful. You may be more cybersafe in Slovakia than in Ecuador (the lowest-ranking country on the list), but the following tips apply to remote workers everywhere:

  1. Encrypt your Wi-Fi connection. Unencrypted Wi-fi is one of the biggest security risks for remote workers. And it’s everywhere: cafes, restaurants, airports, shopping malls, and many other public places. If you connect to an unencrypted network, a hacker may be able to extract the data you transmit through it, including your sensitive work information and passwords. To keep your Wi-Fi connection secure, take encryption into your own hands with a VPN. A VPN will encrypt all of the data on your device, making you secure no matter what wifi network you connect to.
  2. Update your software. Software vulnerabilities in outdated software are another common entry point for hackers. To keep your devices secure, update everything: your OS, apps, and any other software you use. Set up auto-updates to ensure you don’t miss out on any crucial security patches.
  3. Use strong passwords. “123456” and “password” remain the top-used passwords in the US, according to research by NordPass. With passwords like these, it’s only a matter of time before your accounts get brute-forced and your data gets leaked. Start taking your passwords seriously and use long, complicated, and unique passwords for each of your online accounts. A password manager can help keep track of them all.

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