World War C: Motives Behind Cyberattacks Launched by Governments

A new FireEye report details the characteristics of each region

FireEye has published a new report that focuses of the sophisticated cyberattacks launched today by governments.

The study, called “World War C: Understanding Nation-State Motives Behind Today’s Advanced Cyber Attacks,” highlights the fact that governments routinely launch cyberattacks to project national power and defend national sovereignty.

The report shows that each region has certain key characteristics when it comes to cyberattacks. For instance, the Asia-Pacific region is home to large, bureaucratic groups, such as the notorious Comment Crew, which launch high-frequency, brute-force attacks against their targets.

In the Middle East, on the other hand, cybercriminal groups are more dynamic, often relying on social engineering to achieve their goals.

The most technically advanced attacks are launched in Russia and Eastern Europe. As far as the United States is concerned, the country’s PRISM program demonstrates the fact that the government is capable of some of the most complex and rigorously engineered campaigns.

According to FireEye researchers, there are several factors that could change the current cyber security landscape. These factors include new cyber actors, such as Taiwan, Brazil and Poland; a cyber arms treaty; a devastating critical infrastructure outage; and an increased focus on the development of detection evasion methods.

Experts also believe that the privacy concerns raised by the PRISM revelations could restrain government-backed cyberattacks, not only in the US, but in other countries as well.

“Cyber weapons are being used as an advantage in real-world conflict. Regions have their own set of cyber weapons, which they will use to their advantage when it comes to a conflict or to help their allies. The world is at cyber war with attacks in every direction and location,” said Kenneth Geers, senior global threat analyst at FireEye.

“Cyber shots are fired in peacetime for immediate geopolitical ends, as well as to prepare for possible future kinetic attacks. Since attacks are localized and idiosyncratic—understanding the geopolitics of each region can aid in cyber defense.”

The complete World War C report is available on FireEye’s website.

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