A UN report released this week shows that despite global awareness of the proliferation of cybercrime and cyber-spying, many nations -- including some of the world's most developed -- suffer from severe deficiencies when it comes to cybersecurity. Furthermore, the study shows, there is a huge range in preparedness when it comes to the cybersecurity capabilities of the world's most powerful nations.

The Global Cybersecurity Index was drafted after analysts examined the cyber-defense capabilities of 134 countries, focusing on five important criteria -- technical, organizational, legal, cooperation, and growth potential -- and ranking nations on the basis of a combination of those factors.

The results of the study may seem surprising, but Singapore -- a nation skilled at leveraging technological innovations created by others -- edged out the United States for the top spot. Despite any expectations to the contrary, countries like Malaysia, Oman, and Estonia also easily beat countries like Canada, Russia, Germany, India, and Israel. While some may find such results difficult to believe, it is important to remember that the study only examined defensive capabilities; had it covered the nations' ability to cyberattack others, or how many cybersecurity businesses each locale's economy has spawned, it likely would have yielded significantly different results.

Interestingly, I recently wrote about another study that found cybersecurity businesses to be far more widespread around the globe than many folks might expect. That study also found that while certain geographies continue to dominate cybersecurity, it is increasingly a global business.

What clearly emerges from the UN report is that nearly every nation has some serious work to do if it wants to be cyber-secure, and that as things stand now, "there is still an evident gap between countries in terms of awareness, understanding, knowledge, and finally capacity to deploy the proper strategies, capabilities, and programs."

The full UN report is available online. (Please note that presently "the GCI 2017 Report is temporarily unavailable while a correction is being made. Please check back soon for the revised version.​")