Cybersecurity icon Eugene Kaspersky warned of the growing threat to national security posed by cyber terrorism in statements at the London Cyber Conference this week.
"I don't want to speak about it. I don't even want to think about it. But we are close, very close, to cyber terrorism. Perhaps already the criminals have sold their skills to the terrorists - and then... oh, God," said Kaspersky.
Cyber terror is at the top of a list of concerns Kasperky pointed out, including the activities of rogue hacker groups and the continued onslaught of intrusions by state-sponsored entities in an effort to exfiltrate sensitive government and corporate data.
"There is already cyber espionage, cyber crime, hacktivisim (when activists attack networks for political ends) soon we will be facing cyber terrorism," Kasperky said.
While the threat of cyber terrorism events may be on the horizon, the brunt of the security problems faced today still reside in systematic operations aimed at espionage.
"We are here because international cyber security is a real and pressing concern. Let us be frank. Every day we see attempts on an industrial scale to steal government secrets – information of interest to nation states, not just commercial organisations. Highly sophisticated techniques are being employed... These are attacks on our national interest. They are unacceptable," said Prime Minister David Cameron.
Cameron's statement echos sentiments being expressed by leaders in the United States as well. In early October Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, publicly called out the Chinese government for its practice of cyber espionage and the theft of intellectual property.
Representative Rogers called on Western governments "to confront Beijing and demand that they put a stop to this piracy.”
“Beijing is waging a massive trade war on us all, and we should band together to pressure them to stop. Combined, the United States and our allies in Europe and Asia have significant diplomatic and economic leverage over China, and we should use this to our advantage to put an end to this scourge,” Rogers stated.
Rogers noted that espionage operations which include the routine theft of corporate trade secrets and technology through the use of sophisticated attacks suggest that the Chinese government is orchestrating and coordinating the wholesale theft of information that will ultimately undermine U.S. companies' ability to compete economically.
“When you talk to these companies behind closed doors ... they describe attacks that originate in China, and have a level of sophistication and are clearly supported by a level of resources that can only be a nation-state entity,” Rogers said
Other noted experts on cybersecurity have also been quite forward recently about pointing the finger at the Chinese Government.
In June, Richard Clarke, who served as an advisor on national security issues for three administrations, penned a rousing call to arms regarding the state of America's cyber security stance and the growing threats posed by Chinese cyber excursions.
"Senior U.S. officials know well that the government of China is systematically attacking the computer networks of the U.S. government and American corporations. Beijing is successfully stealing research and development, software source code, manufacturing know-how and government plans. In a global competition among knowledge-based economies, Chinese cyberoperations are eroding America's advantage," Clarke warned.
Clarke also gives a strong indication the he believes China was ultimately behind the network intrusion at EMC's security division RSA. The attack is believed to have been orchestrated on order to compromise RSA's SeucrID product, which is used to prevent unauthorized access to network systems, and is used by the government, military, financial, enterprise, healthcare and insurance companies.