Significant rise in state-backed Eastern European cyber espionage

By Danny Palmer
22 Apr 2014 View Comments

Computer hacking and cyber crime for the purposes for industrial espionage is on the rise, with government-backed intrusion attempts from Eastern Europe seeing the biggest growth.

That's according to the Verizon 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report, the sixth annual report of its kind by the US telecommunications and broadband company. The report assessed data from 50 contributing organisations across 95 countries regarding 63,437 security incidents throughout 2013, which included 1,367 confirmed data breaches.

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While the highest number of espionage-related cyber incidents originated from China or other Eastern Asian countries - where 49 per cent of reported attacks came from - there was a significant rise in those coming from Eastern Europe.

The report found that Eastern Europe - especially Russian-speaking nations - accounted for 21 per cent of espionage-related security breaches. Perhaps more worryingly, the vast majority of cyber-espionage cases had some form of government backing, with 87 per cent of those attacks coming from organisations affiliated with a nation state.

The US was by far the biggest victim, targeted by just over half of attacks. The second biggest target was South Korea, which accounted for six per cent of cyber-espionage incidents.

Not surprisingly the public sector was a prime target, with embassies, the military and government contractors all having to fend off regular cyber attacks from criminals looking to steal classified information about government programmes.

Organisations in the science, technology and manufacturing sectors were also frequent targets of cyber espionage aimed at stealing intellectual property, be it for personal, corporate or even national gain.

Wade Baker, principal author of the Data Breach Investigations Report, said organisations need to do more to protect themselves.

"After analysing 10 years of data, we realise most organisations cannot keep up with cyber crime - and the bad guys are winning," he said.

"Organisations need to realise no one is immune from a data breach. Compounding this issue is the fact that it is taking longer to identify compromises within an organisation - often weeks or months, while penetrating an organisation can take minutes or hours," Baker added.

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