Jan 31, 2010

Computers under constant attack

THIRTY per cent of computer systems for the nation's essential services such as banks, government and utilities are repeatedly attacked by hackers every month, according to an international report released today. More than half of those targets are hit multiple times a week or even multiple times a day, and the situation could get worse.

Forty per cent of the Australian experts surveyed for the report believed the nation would sustain a ''major cyber incident'' against its key services in the next 12 months. Given a two-year timeframe, the figure jumped to 53 per cent, and 76 per cent expected a major digital strike against the nation's critical infrastructure within five years.

The study, commissioned by the anti-virus vendor McAfee, was conducted by the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies. The report's lead author, Stewart Baker, was the first assistant secretary for policy at the US Department of Homeland Security until last January and previously worked as general counsel at the National Security Agency.

The report surveyed 600 computer and security experts in 14 countries.

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