Recent months have seen news about the global cyberthreat environment go from bad to worse. In January, search engine megalith Google announced that it might cease operations in China after it discovered that the government had hacked into Google servers, apparently seeking the company’s source code. Soon thereafter, the Christian Science Monitor reported similar attacks, also originating in China, against three major U.S. oil companies—ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Marathon—seeking company data on bid values and locations of oil discoveries. In all four cases, attackers sought the companies’ “crown jewels,” the Monitor wrote.
The incidents underscored the recent findings of an unprecedented study in which tech security firm McAfee, working with Washington, D.C.’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), surveyed IT professionals from 600 companies in 14 countries. Their findings: attacks are growing not only in severity but also in volume, and to a shocking degree. Meanwhile security efforts, already inadequate, have been compromised by economic recession and resulting funding cuts.