State sponsored threats comprise part of the problems McAfee warned security pros about in their latest report on cybercrime and the threat to the government and private sector.
McAfee security researcher Craig Schmugar told SecurityProNews the Cold War has returned. China and other governments sponsor attacks against other countries, as espionage attempts continue to seek whatever information can be gained.
There is no Brandenburg Gate, no Checkpoint Charlie, no Smiley waiting for a bundled-up Karla to slowly cross from the East to the West. Such concepts from the old Cold War look quaint in the Internet era of today.
No chokepoints like these exist between interconnected countries of which Schmugar said 120 actively conduct spying against others. Since there are 192 countries in the United Nations, plus non-member Vatican City, it appears much of the world runs espionage operations against somebody else.
However, a lot of activity observed by McAfee has a common denominator: China. Computers in the United States, Germany, India, Australia, and New Zealand have seen attacks from Chinese interests. Spokespersons for the Chinese government routinely denied all accusations of state-sponsored attacks.
“The Chinese were first to use cyberattacks for political and military goals,” James Mulvenon, an expert on China’s military and director of the Center for Intelligence and Research in Washington, said in the McAfee report.
“Whether it is a battlefield preparation or hacking networks connected to the German chancellor they are the first state actor to jump feet first into the 21st century cyber warfare technology. This is becoming a more serious and open problem,” he continued.
The threat to information technology assets goes beyond what the Chinese *allegedly* initiate from within their borders. Schmugar noted the continued problem of the Storm worm, also knows as Nuwar.
Storm has exhibited polymorphic tendencies in the past. Now, the logic for that morphing resides on a server, rather than with the code put out in Storm attacks. Antivirus professionals have to work to stay ahead of the continually changing threat.
The toolkits available to criminals for creating threats became more professional. We think that follows the continual trend toward financial profit demonstrated by those who use these toolkits to develop attacks against PC users.