Cybersecurity Capacity Building: Cross-National Benefits and International Divides


Publication date: 2020

Author: Sadie Creese; William H. Dutton; Patricia Esteve-Gonzalez; and Ruth Shillair

The growing centrality of cyber-security has led many governments and international organizations to focus on building the capacity of nations to withstand threats to the online security of the public and its digital resources. These initiatives entail a range of actions that vary from education and training, to technology and related standards, as well as new legal and policy frameworks. While efforts to proactively address security problems are intuitively valuable, there is a lack of evidence on whether they achieve their intended objectives. This paper takes a cross-national comparative approach to determining whether there is empirical support for investing in capacity building. Marshalling field research from 73 nations, the comparative data analysis:

1) describes the status of capacity building across the nations;

2) determines the impact of capacity building when controlling for other key contextual variables that might provide alternative explanations for key outcomes; and

3) explores the factors that are shaping national advances in capacity building.

The analysis underscores a relatively low, formative status of cyber-security capacity in most of the nations studied, but also shows that relatively higher levels of maturity translate into positive outcomes for nations. The analysis also reveals a capacity divide between countries based on income levels, that reinforces economic divides. The study provides empirical support to international efforts aimed at building cyber-security capacity, and mitigating gaps based on the wealth of nations.