Security analysts are predicting that 2013 is when nation-sponsored cyberwarfare goes mainstream -- and some think such attacks will lead to actual deaths.
In 2012, large-scale cyberattacks targeted at the Iranian government were uncovered, and in return, Iran is believed to have launched massive attacks aimed at U.S. banks and Saudi oil companies. At least 12 of the world's 15 largest military powers are currently building cyberwarfare programs, according to James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
So a cyber Cold War is already in progress. But some security companies believe that battle will become even more heated this year. "Nation states and armies will be more frequent actors and victims of cyberthreats," a team of researchers at McAfee Labs, an Intel subsidiary, wrote in a recent report. Michael Sutton, Head of Security Research at cloud security company Zscaler, said he expects governments to spend furiously on building up their cyber arsenals. Some may even outsource attacks to online hackers.
The Obama administration and many in Congress have been more vocal about how an enemy nation or a terrorist cell could target the country's critical infrastructure in a cyberattack. Banks, stock exchanges, nuclear power plants and water purification systems are particularly vulnerable, according to numerous assessments delivered to Congress last year.
But after legislation aimed at preventing such attacks stalled in Congress last year, some experts believe this will be the year when cyberattacks turn deadly. "Nation-state attackers will target critical infrastructure networks such as power grids at unprecedented scale in 2013," predicted Chiranjeev Bordoloi, CEO of security company Top Patch. "These types of attacks could grow more sophisticated, and the slippery slope could lead to the loss of human life."
Security firm IID also predicted that cyberattacks will lead to the loss of life this year. But others say that such event is unlikely. Our most potent online foes, Russia and China, haven't shown an interest in infrastructure attacks. Those that would pursue them -- Iran is often mentioned -- haven't yet proven capable of pulling off something on that scale.
Source : CNN Money