"We're finding espionage, advanced persistent threats (APTs), and other malware sitting in networks, often for more than a year before it's ever detected," Martinez says. He says U.S. entities are being targeted on multiple fronts by China and Iran for espionage and intellectual property theft, by interests in Russia and Eastern Europe for syndicated crime such stealing cash and identities, by social-agenda "hacktivist" groups such as Anonymous, and by increasingly skilled individual criminal hackers.
The cyber war now raging in the digital homeland Such attacks have been going on for years, but what's new is the cyber war brewing between the United States and Israel on one side and Iran in the other, says Emilian Papadopoulos, chief of staff at Good Harbor Security Risk Management, a consulting firm focused on cyber threats.
Stuxnet, for example, was developed by Israel with U.S. support to hobble Iranian nuclear facilities, according to the New York Times and several security experts who spoke to InfoWorld off the record. Iran also accuses the United States and Israel of the cyber attacks that took Iran's Oil Ministry and a major oil terminal offline, Papadopolous says.
Iran or its proxies has apparently hit back with cyber attacks on U.S. banks, government officials say. Iran may have also been behind the Shamoon virus that wiped 30,000 hard drives and took computer networks offline for weeks at the oil producer Saudi Aramco, Papadopoulos says.
A 2011 attack on European certificate authority DigiNotar compromised the certificate system that underlies the Internet and enables users to trust in the identity of websites they visit and the source of communications they receive, Papadopoulos says.
"We have seen cyber attacks evolve from espionage attacks that steal intellectual property or monitor communications to disruptive or destructive attacks. ... Destructive and disruptive cyber attacks are relatively uncharted -- and troubling -- territory," he says.
The private sector owns and operates the infrastructure and systems that form the backbone of the Internet, and attacks on that system could break down trust in the Internet, with major economic and operational impact, Papadopolous says.