LIVE FROM WORLD INTERNET CONFERENCE, WUZHEN, CHINA: Eugene Kaspersky, founder and chairman of Russian cyber security group Kaspersky Lab (pictured), warned the scale and complexity of global cyber attacks is growing at an exponential rate, with the company expecting to collect more than 90 million malicious applications this year.
Kaspersky noted when people think about cyber security, they generally only think about computers and smartphones. But criminals are increasingly targeting the industrial environment, including IoT applications.
“Cyber systems are everywhere around us. We don’t really understand how much we depend on cyber systems. When you travel they are in planes, trains and hotel door keys. And air-conditioners, security cameras and fire alarms are all highly computerised.”
Unfortunately, he said many of these systems are extremely vulnerable.
In the past the attackers didn’t pay attention to the industrial space, but not any more Kaspersky warned: “We see a growing number of attacks on the physical environment, such as security cameras, IoT devices, steel mills, the power grid, health care, etc.”
Scale and complexity
To give a perspective on the massive scale of attacks, Kaspersky Lab collected about 500 malicious applications in 1997. The number jumped to more than 2 million samples ten years later and this year it expects to collect more than 90 million.
Every day it is finding 300,000 new malicious samples, he said.
“I wish the world economy would grow at the same speed as cyber crime.”
The vast majority of these massive computer attacks are junior or middle level and aren’t complicated. But at the same time, he said there is growing complexity of cyber attacks. The first highly complicated application was in 2010. The company is now monitoring about 100 highly complicated, very professional malicious attacks.
About 10 per cent to 20 per cent are targeting financial services and enterprises in search of money, with the remainder state-sponsored attacks which come in many languages.
“We don’t do attribution because in cyberspace it is very complicated – it’s easy to point the finger at the wrong source,” he said.
Kaspersky was talking at China’s World Internet Conference, an event designed to globally promote the country’s vision of a more censored and controlled internet.
His company faced a torrid few weeks – last week it said its revenues in North America will be hit by between 5 per cent and 8 per cent this year after a “tsunami of allegations” about its alleged exploitation by intelligence officials in Moscow.