Hacker attacks on Government systems declining year-on-year
release & faq in pdf
London, UK - 13 November 2002, 16:30 GMT - Australia has been the
worst hit victim of overt digital attacks on its military and government computer
systems in November, with 32 so far. 9th November saw the compromise of 13
computer servers on a New South Wales state government network in a synchronised
assault on a single day. The other big military and government digital attack
victims this month have been the US (18) and China (10).
The worst hit military and government attack victims in 2002 have been China
(173), USA (162), Turkey (109), Brazil (108) and Australia (66). Overt digital
attacks on government and military systems worldwide are falling and comprise
less than 2% of all overt attacks in 2002. However, 18% of all overt attacks
on China in 2002 were targeted at government and military systems. The proportion
of attacks focused on the military and government systems for the US was less
than 1%, Turkey was 20%, Brazil was 2% and Australia was 6%. The rest of the
attacks were targeted mostly at small to medium size businesses, some large
businesses, educational establishments and not-for-profit organisations.
In 2002, the most notable examples of overt digital attack on military and
government computers were: The US Government House of Representatives, US
Department of Agriculture, New York State Department of Education, US National
Park Service, Goddard & Marshall Space Flight Centers, Washington State
Library, the US National Institute of Aging and the US State Department's
International Information Programs.
The overall trend for overt digital attacks on military and government online
computers is declining since April and May 2001, which had marked the worst
period of attacks on US and China government and military computer systems
because of the spy plane incident. There were 2,031 overt attacks on government
and military targets recorded worldwide in 2001 by the mi2g SIPS
database. For 2002, the mi2g Intelligence Unit is projecting a
total of 1,400 such attacks, ie, a decline of a third year on year.
The overall trend for digital attacks is on an upward curve with 31,322 overt
digital attacks recorded in 2001 and 64,408 - more than double - recorded
in 2002 already. The revised projection for 2002 is for over 70,000 such attacks
mostly targeted at small to medium size businesses.
"The major challenge for the nation states
in the coming decade is to be able to respond adequately to the digital attacks
taking place not just on government systems but also on small to medium size
businesses. This is where governments and the defence forces will have to
concentrate their cyber-security efforts so that adequate safety and protection
can be provided to the civilian components of our online society that are
incapable of defending themselves against concerted international attacks,"
said DK Matai, Chairman and CEO of mi2g
In 2001, in terms of military and government victims, the top five overtly
attacked countries were China (394), USA (386), Brazil (164), Taiwan (110)
and Mexico (67). 2001 had also seen the continuation of the ongoing cyberspace
tensions between China and Taiwan, which started in Q3 1999.
1999 was the first year for which cyber warfare was predicted and recorded
by mi2g. 1999 included the NATO-Serbia conflict and China-Taiwan standoff
and it was the worst period for worldwide economic damage attributable to
government and military computer systems as well as loss of digital performance
and degradation in capability as a result. The estimated worldwide damage
through attacks on government and military computer systems has been calculated
at between $1.5 and $1.8 Billion for 1999; $740 and $ 900 Million for 2000;
$960 Million and $1.2 Billion for 2001; and $560 and $690 Million for 2002
Notes to Editors
In a speech delivered last year in London which was introduced by Andrew
Pinder, the UK Government eEnvoy, mi2g's Chairman and CEO, DK Matai
had predicted that the damaging situation from digital attacks would arise
in the future based on the trends observed between 1995 and 2001. A concrete
way forward to solve this unfolding problem was suggested in the speech, which
is available at:
World Beyond 11th September - Focus on Asymmetric Warfare
Also note the mi2g release titled: "Government backed counter-attack-forces
necessary in future"
backed counter-attack-forces necessary in future
What is EVEDA?
EVEDA stands for Economic Value Engine for Damage Analysis. EVEDA is a component
of the SIPS (Security Intelligence Products & Systems) database,
which estimates economic damage as loss of productivity, management time,
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations, customer and supplier liabilities
and share price decline where applicable. EVEDA collects its information from
a variety of open sources and measures the economic value associated with
a particular brand or publicly listed company based on a unique set of algorithms
developed by the mi2g SIPS team in conjunction with risk analysts.
Over the last six years, the worldwide economic damage estimate for all forms
of digital attack has been estimated via EVEDA at between: $36 and $44 Billion
(2002 so far); $35 and $43 Billion (2001); $22 and $27 Billion (2000); $18
and $22 Billion (1999); $3.6 and $4.4 Billion (1998); $2.9 and $3.7 Billion
(1997); $800 and $970 Million (1996).
What is an "overt digital attack"?
Hacker attacks on digital systems, such as computers and digitally controlled
machines, can be either covert or overt. Covert attacks are not reported,
validated or witnessed by a reliable third party source, whereas overt attacks
are either public knowledge or known to an entity other than the attacker(s)
and the victim(s).
mi2g defines an overt digital attack as being an incident when a hacker
group has gained unauthorized access to an online system and has made modifications
to any of its publicly visible components (such as a broadcast, service routine,
payment / data collection or print out) whilst executing:
1. Data Attacks: The confidentiality, integrity, authentication or non-repudiation
of transactions based on the underlying databases is violated. Such attacked
databases may include confidential credit card numbers, identity information,
customer and supplier profiles and transaction histories;
2. Command and Control Attacks: SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol)
controlled computers, routers and switches, networks of ATMs (Automated Teller
Machines), DCS (Distributed Control Systems), SCADA (Supervisory Control And
Data Acquisition) systems or PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) have been
What are the motives for "overt digital attacks"?
The principal motives for digital attacks have been political tension, protest
and digital warfare; espionage, surveillance and reconnaissance; destruction
of competitive advantage or share price; disgruntled or misdirected workforce
issues; anti-globalisation and anti-capitalism protest; environmental and
animal rights activism; intellectual challenge and recreational hacking; financial
mi2g has been collecting data on overt digital attacks going back
to 1995 via the SIPS (Security Intelligence Products and Systems) database.
The SIPS database has information on over 108,000 overt digital attacks
and 6,100 hacker groups. The SIPS intelligence citations include the
2002 Computer Security Institute (CSI) / Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Computer Security Issues and Trends Survey [Vol. VIII, No. 1 - Spring 2002].
Detailed copies of the SIPS reports for each month, including back
issues can be ordered from the firstname.lastname@example.org. A vetting process
may be carried out prior to the release of the SIPS reports to individuals
and for overseas orders. mi2g solutions engineering pays particular
regard to security. mi2g advises on the management of Digital Risk and incorporates
Bespoke Security Architecture in its SMART sourcing solutions. mi2g has pioneered
the Contingency Capability Radar to assist in rigorous business continuity
planning based on ISO 17799.
First contact: Tel: +44 (0) 20 7924 3010 Fax: +44
(0) 20 7924 3310 eMail: Intelligence