Israel has been rated as best prepared to counter emerging cyber attacks followed by Finland and Sweden, according to a survey by Security and Defense Agenda (SDA), a Belgian research group commissioned by McAfee.

In the SDA’s ‘Cyber-security: The Vexed Question of Global Rules’ report, 23 countries were ranked as per the Cyber Security Maturity Model developed by Cyber Security Strategies president Robert Lentz.

McAfee Global Public Sector vice president and CTO Phyllis Schneck said: "The core problem is that the cyber criminal has greater agility, given large funding streams and no legal boundaries to sharing information and can thus choreograph well-orchestrated attacks into systems."

A five-point scale was used to judge the countries’ defence capabilities and cyber readiness with respect to various online security parameters including adequate firewalls and anti-virus measures such as proper governance and education.

While the top three nations scored 4.5 out of 5 points, the UK scored four along with the US, France and Germany. Further behind were Denmark, Estonia, Netherlands Spain, Australia, Austria, Canada and Japan, who all scored 3.5 points.

China and Russia, considered to be more security conscious, lagged behind with three points, along with Poland and Italy, whereas India and Brazil were ranked with 2.5 points each. Mexico was the least prepared with 2 points.

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McAfee CTO Raj Samani said the subjective report is a useful indicator of country’s strengths and was based on the opinions of 80 cybersecurity experts and on interviews with 250 ministers and IT specialists.

The UK Cyber Security Strategy, announced in November 2011, has also been criticised by security expert Peter Sommer as half of the £650m funding will be given to intelligence agencies, limiting transparency.

The report concludes by saying that greater global information sharing is necessary to improve a nation’s resilience and recommends giving more power to law enforcement to fight cross-border crime as well as the development of improved public awareness of cyber-security campaigns.