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November 16, 2009

McAfee warns of global cyberarms race

Privately-owned critical infrastructure in developed countries huge target for cyberwarfare

By CBR Staff Writer

Security giant McAfee said that the global cyberarms race has moved from fiction to reality, and has warned that various countries are arming for cyberwarfare.

According to McAfee’s fifth annual Virtual Criminology Report, politically motivated cyberattacks have increased and five countries, the US, Russia, France, Israel and China are now armed with cyberweapons.

Dave DeWalt, president and CEO of McAfee, said: “McAfee began to warn of the global cyberarms race more than two years ago, but now we’re seeing increasing evidence that it’s become real. Now several nations around the world are actively engaged in cyberwar-like preparations and attacks. Today, the weapons are not nuclear, but virtual, and everyone must adapt to these threats.”

The report identifies that nation-states are actively developing cyberwarfare capabilities and involved in the cyberarms race, targeting government networks and critical infrastructures; and attackers are not only building their cyberdefenses, but cyberoffenses, targeting infrastructure such as power grids, transportation, telecommunication, finance and water supplies.

According to the report, the cyberwarfare entangles so many different actors in so many different ways that the rules of engagement are not clearly defined. Critical infrastructure is privately-owned in many developed countries, making it a huge target for cyberwarfare. The private sector relies heavily on the government to prevent cyberattacks and if virtual shooting starts, governments, corporations and private citizens may get caught in the crossfire.

William Crowell, former deputy director of the US National Security Agency, said: “Over the next 20 to 30 years, cyberattacks will increasingly become a component of war. What I can’t foresee is whether networks will be so pervasive and unprotected that cyber war operations will stand alone.”

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