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Espionage hacking is on the increase, study shows [Cape Argus (South Africa)]
[April 22, 2014]

Espionage hacking is on the increase, study shows [Cape Argus (South Africa)]

(Cape Argus (South Africa) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) SAN FRANCISCO: Hacking for espionage purposes is sharply increasing, with groups or governments from Eastern Europe playing a growing role, according to one of the most comprehensive annual studies of computer intrusions.

Spying intrusions traced back to any country last year were blamed on residents of China and other East Asian nations 49 percent of the time, but Eastern European countries, especially Russian-speaking nations, were the suspected launching site for 21 percent of breaches, Verizon Communications said in its annual Data Breach Investigations Report.

Those were by far the most active areas detected in the sampling, which drew more than half of its data from victims in the US. About 25 percent of spying incidents could not be attributed to attackers from any country.

Though the overall number of spying incidents tripled in last year's Verizon report, most of that increase was due to the addition of new data sources. Even looking at the same contributors as before, however, espionage cases grew, said investigator Bryan Sartin.

Not all electronic spying was blamed on governments. Investigators from Verizon, Intel's McAfee, Kaspersky Labs and other private companies and public agencies contributing data ascribed 11 percent of espionage attacks to organised criminals and 87 percent to governments.

In some cases, the criminal gangs were probably looking to sell what they found to governments or competitors of the victims.

"We do see a slight merging between the classic organised criminal and the espionage crook," Sartin said, adding that he expected that trend to continue.

If the rise of Eastern European spying comes as a surprise, a bigger surprise might be the study's findings about attacks on retailers.

Though recent breaches at Target and other retailers through their point-of-sale equipment have dominated the headlines and prompted US congressional hearings in the past few months, fewer such intrusions were reported to the Verizon team than in past years, even as the number of report contributors has multiplied.

"The media frenzy makes quite a splash but, from a frequency standpoint, this largely remains a small-and-medium business issue," the study said. - Reuters Cape Argus (c) 2014 Independent Newspapers (Pty) Limited. All rights strictly reserved. Provided by, an company

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