A global cyberwarfare arms race is in full swing, a majority of cybersecurity and policy experts surveyed worldwide agrees.Such a finding may not be entirely surprising given that news reports of such an arms race have been popping up like mushrooms over the past year.
But the 2011-2012 survey – conducted by the Security & Defence Agenda (SDA) of Brussels, a specialist security and defence think-tank, and McAfee, a cybersecurity company – was purportedly of 250 of the world’s top policy wonks in 27 countries, a group presumably less likely to be whipsawed by media reports. If so, it may indicate that the reported rise in nation-state cyberthreats is not just news gatherers run amok.
Either way, efforts to get a grip on how big and diverse the cyberthreat facing the world really is are generally welcome for whatever might be gleaned, cyberexperts say. In that vein, the new survey released Jan. 30 found that:
• 57 per cent of global experts believe an arms race is taking place in cyberspace.
• 36 per cent say cybersecurity is more important than missile defence.
• 43 per cent identified damage or disruption to critical infrastructure as the greatest single threat posed by cyberattacks with wide economic consequences – a jump from 37 per cent in McAfee’s 2010 Critical Infrastructure Report.
• 45 per cent say cybersecurity is now as important as border security.
A number of countries are developing plans to “respond more aggressively” to cyberattacks and funding major investments in offensive systems, said a number of the more than 80 cybersecurity experts in government, companies, international organisations, and academia who were interviewed in depth for the survey.
One example, Britain in late 2011 released a cyberstrategy that promoted the idea of both companies and the military taking strong defensive action.
“Instead of writing off losses, [companies] should invest into actively targeting those organisations that have been attacking them,” William Beer, director of information and cybersecurity practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, based in London, told the survey.
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