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A robot and cyber nightmare

Sam Jayne / Axios

From robotics to cyber-war, developing countries are being lashed by the powerful new technological forces sweeping the globe — and seem likely to face worse.

  • Before cyber-attackers have struck targets in the U.S. and Europe, they have often tested out their strategies in India, Taiwan, South Korea, and other second- or third-tier powers, per the New York Times' Sheera Frenkel. The defenses in countries like India are often lower, and fewer security experts are watching.
  • Among malware tested: quasi-intelligent software that learns about the computer environment it's attacking as it moves. In addition, India has been hit with outsized waves of ransomware — Wannacry and Petya — that have struck some 60 countries in recent weeks.
  • The next fear: Robots will stymie the traditional pathway up the economic ladder for poor nations, said Daniel Runde, an analyst with the Center for Security and International Studies. As rich nations adopt more robots, they can economically keep assembly and manufacturing industries at home rather than shipping them abroad to low labor-cost countries, he said.

Why it matters: Cyber security experts are now increasingly looking to the developing world to discover what malware might hit the more sophisticated economies next. These second-tier economies are a playing ground — a pickup basketball court — where cyber criminals can practice.The economic side is perhaps more worrying because it means exacerbation of a dynamic already in play — what Harvard economist Dani Rodrick has called "premature de-industrialization," in which poorer countries barely or never get to see the fruits of a manufacturing economy.