Mike McGuire a senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Surrey has conducted a study, called Nation States, Cyberconflict and the Web of Profit using publicly available reports into state-sponsored attacks along with interviews with various experts. The study reveals that the world is coming increasingly close to nation state retaliating against cyber-attacks with violence. In his report, McGuire reveals that there has been a 100% increase in “significant” state-backed attacks over the past three years.
The results also showed that:
- There was an average of over 10 publicly attributed attacks per month throughout the year of 2020.
- 50% featured surveillance tools, while a worrying 14% focused on damage destruction and 40% involved a physical and digital component.
- 64% of the experts McGuire interviewed believe the escalation in tensions last year were either “worrying” or “very worrying”.
This new phase is defined by nations engaging in repeated digital attacks, which is only exacerbated through the increased weaponisation and readiness of governments to define these attacks as “acts of war”.