Politically motivated cyber attacks are on the rise, causing several powerful countries to arm themselves with ‘cyber weapons’, security software vendor McAfee has warned.
McAfee’s fifth annual Virtual Criminology Report found that the US, Russia, France, Israel and China are now armed with cyber weapons.
“McAfee began to warn of the global cyberarms race more than two years ago, but now we’re seeing increasing evidence that it’s become real,” said Dave DeWalt, McAfee’s president and CEO. “Now several nations around the world are actively engaged in cyberwar-like preparations and attacks. Today, the weapons are not nuclear, but virtual, and everyone must adapt to these threats.”
According to the study, targets for politically motivated online attacks have included the White House, the US Department of Homeland Security, US Secret Service and Department of Defense.
“Over the next 20 to 30 years, cyber attacks will increasingly become a component of war,” William Crowell, a former Deputy Director of the US National Security Agency, is quoted as saying in the report. “What I can’t foresee is whether networks will be so pervasive and unprotected that cyber war operations will stand alone.”
Infrastructure such as power grids, transportation, telecommunication, finance and water supplies is apparently most at risk, because damage can be done quickly with little effort.
According to McAfee, critical infrastructure in most developed countries is vulnerable because it is connected to the internet without proper security functions.
The Virtual Criminology Report was compiled by former White House advisor Paul Kurtz on McAfee’s. Kurtz gatheres information from over 24 of the world’s leading experts in international relations.