National Cyber Risk Relates to Human Development

Could Cyber Behaviours be the Key to Unlocking Human Development?


While it is known that developing countries are the least cyber-safe (Świątkowska, 2020, UN, 2011), the relationship between a country’s cyber security risks and their human development is yet to be fully understood. Here, we seek to strengthen existing ties between these two aspects.


We quantify cyber security according to Average Global Cyber Security Ratings from Comparitech, a firm that provides balanced reports on cyber security and privacy-related issues. The security ratings consisted of fifteen different criteria measured from over sixty countries, including ‘% of computers attacked by phishing’ and ‘% of computers infected by at least one malware attack (web-based)’, and give a high-level view of a country’s cyber security posture. We correlate risk scores with the Human Development Index (HDI), a widely used measure of average achievement created by the United Nations Development Programme, which consists of three dimensions: Health, Education, and Standard of Living.


To explore the relationship between cyber security and human development scores. In doing so, we hope to highlight the relevance of taking a human-centred approach to cyber security and how this can help those nations with the greatest need for development.

Key Findings

Significant Relationship between cyber security and human development. Our analyses show that there is a significant negative correlation between national Comparitech scores and HDI (p < .001), indicating that countries with lower cyber security scores (i.e., safer) tend to have greater human development scores.

Specific Metric Influence

Our analysis identifies ‘% of Users Attacked by Mobile Ransomware Trojans’ and ‘% of Computers Facing at Least One Local Malware Attack’ as the specific risks that most strongly relate to HDI (p < .001).


Here, we see that countries with a greater HDI also possess a lower cyber risk score, and as such can be considered better-off from a cyber security perspective. We also find that the greater cyber risks facing lower HDI countries are those which target individuals directly, relying on some element of manipulation or behavioural vulnerability (phishing and malware attacks).

This supports the prevailing narrative that developed countries have weaker behavioural defence mechanisms (Kshitri, 2010). Given that developing countries typically also face worse negative consequence from a cyber-attack (Świątkowska, 2020), focussing on cyber security from a human development perspective may play a particularly significant role in benefitting both cybersecurity and societal development. Not only in reducing the overall cyber risk faced, but also providing an opportunity for a country to improve their HDI score.

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Thank You For Reading

We sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this report. We hope the insights and recommendations provided herein inspire continued discussion and action towards fostering a more secure digital future. For any feedback, further inquiries, or to join us in this endeavor, please feel free to reach out using the contact details listed below.