Belgium is the world’s most hackable country, according to the National Exposure Index, published Monday by security firm Rapid7.
Belgium was followed closely by Tajikistan and Samoa. The United States ranked fourteenth on the cyber risk list.
Researchers said countries that ranked highest often use outdated systems or technologies that lack modern security practices and leave systems exposed to malicious hackers.
Several of the largest, richest countries ranked high on the list. Australia was fourth, followed by China in fifth.
Researchers at Rapid7 warned that countries need to better prioritize information security practices in order to protect themselves.
"We’ve reduced the complexity and costs of connecting devices but continue to make the same critical configurational mistakes that lead to potentially harmful exposure," Bob Rudis, chief security data scientist at Rapid7, told Newsweek in an interview.
Researchers called out the use of old protocols, such as Telnet—a system designed to remotely access files and servers—as an example of dated, vulnerable technologies still in heavy use today. The report found Telnet is still used on about 15 million devices worldwide.
"The Internet is far too important an engine of economic growth and stability to leave to legacy, security-optional services," the report said. "We must rethink how we design, deploy and manage our existing infrastructure."
Vulnerabilities can also arise from unlocked, publicly accessible databases that lack basic security measures. For example, in April, Chris Vickery, a MacKeeper security researcher, discovered that the personal data of 87 million Mexican voters was left on an unlocked server. The information included the names, addresses, birth dates and national identification numbers of every voter in Mexico.