IT security and data protection firm, Sophos, has published its mid-year 2010 Security Threat Report, revealing the findings of a survey into attitudes towards cyberwarfare and detailing other trends and developments in IT security for the first half of 2010.
Sophos's worldwide survey of 1 077 computer users has uncovered some alarming attitudes towards international cyber-espionage. Respondents were asked questions including whether they thought spying via hacking or malware attacks is an acceptable practice and if the computer networks of private companies in other countries are legitimate targets.
Some of the key findings of the survey indicate a relaxed attitude to government sponsored cybercrime. In fact, 63% of those polled believed that it is acceptable for their country to spy on other nations by hacking or installing malware while 1 in 14 respondents said that crippling denial of service attacks against another country's communication or financial websites is acceptable during peacetime.
"While it is surprising that so many people seem to think that using the internet as a tool for spying, or even as a weapon, is acceptable practice, by giving the green light to these kind of activities you'd have to expect to be on the receiving end too. Perhaps yours will be the next company probed by an overseas power," says Brett Myroff, CEO of regional Sophos distributor, Sophos South Africa.
‘Operation Aurora', which first came to light at the start of the year, resulted in Google accusing Chinese hackers of cyberwarfare, as its systems, and those of other companies, were hit with targeted attacks, potentially signalling the most obvious sign yet of a new age of malware.
Hacking and virus-writing began as a hobbyist activity, often designed to prove how smart the programmer was, rather than to cause serious long-term harm. But this has evolved into an organised criminal activity, with the lure of large amounts of money. And now, in 2010, it could be argued that the third motivation is using malware and the internet to gain commercial, political and military advantage over others.