Cyber terror the bigest threat facing nations

A "CYBER cold war" is developing as international web espionage and cyber attacks become the biggest threats to internet security, according to a report.

Computer security firm McAfee said governments and government allied groups were engaging in increasingly sophisticated cyber spying, with many attacks originating from China. Some 120 countries could be developing the capacity for such activities. In the past 12 months, there have been reports of cyber attacks against government targets in the US, Germany, India, New Zealand and Australia.

What started as probes to see what was possible have become well-funded and well organized operations for political, military, economic and technical espionage, the report said, with perpetrators aiming to cause havoc by disrupting critical national infrastructure systems.

Targets include air traffic control, financial markets, water and sewer- age systems, electricity, payrolls, intensive care units and even traffic lights.

In September: there were reports that Chinese hackers had been attacking the computer networks of the British government. China has spelled out in a white paper that "informationised armed forces" are part of its military strategy McAfee, whose report was compiled with input from Nato, the FBI, and others, said the wave of cyber attacks that hit Estonia earlier this year: disrupting government, news and bank servers for weeks, was the tip of the iceberg.

In May, the Baltic state said that at least one million computers had been used in the cyber warfare, which saw hundreds of thousands of hits bombarding Estonian websites to jam them and make them unusable. The report also highlighted new threats to consumers, with cyber criminals targeting internet based telephone networks in what has become known as "vishing". Users of Facebook and MvSnace are also vulnerable.

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