[ISN] Cyberwarfare Now 'Business as Usual'

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Fri Nov 30 2007 - 01:14:33 PST


By Kelly Jackson Higgins
Senior Editor
Dark Reading
November 29, 2007

After a year's worth of reports from regions such as Estonia, Russia, 
and China, it may not surprise you that security and terrorism experts 
consider international cyber-spying as the biggest threat for 2008.

And the bad guys are going mainstream: Competition has gotten so stiff 
that malware suppliers are now offering customer service perks for bad 
guys who buy their wares.

These, as well as cyber-spying trends, are among the many findings of 
McAfee's annual Virtual Criminology Report released today.

"What struck me through most of this report is the threat is more 
evolutionary than revolutionary -- things we've talked about as 
potentially developing are now status quo," says David Marcus, senior 
research and communications manager for McAfee. "That's the disturbing 
part. Cyberwarfare, or state-sponsored malware, is business as usual."

The report, which is based on input from more than a dozen security 
experts from NATO, the FBI, SOCA, The London School of Economics, and 
the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, says the underworld 
market offers tools that make it easy for criminals with little 
technical know-how to commit their crimes. With the black market for 
these malware tools growing and becoming more competitive, many now 
advertise their 'products,' and offer support services as a value-add.

"That speaks to their attempts to look like legitimate software houses," 
Marcus says. "A lot of Trojan Websites don't just sell you malware, but 
also support for it... It's not just the initial sale of the software. 
If it's a good service, you'll buy theirs. We have been seeing that 
become more prevalent in the last eight months."

And the concern among governments is that this malware, as well as the 
burgeoning market for zero-day exploits, sold in the black market can 
also be used for targeting government, banks or other sensitive 
infrastructures, such as the power grid, the report points out.

Around 120 countries are now using the Net for their Web espionage 
operations, according to the McAfee report. "There are signs that 
intelligence agencies around the world are constantly probing other 
governments’ networks looking for strengths and weaknesses and 
developing new ways to gather intelligence," says Peter Sommer, an 
expert in information systems and innovation at the London School of 
Economics, in the report.

China is one of the main sources of cyber attacks, and Chinese officials 
have publicly said they are "pursuing activities in cyber-espionage," 
according to the report.

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