Security firm McAfee claims we may be heading into a cyber cold war. In a new report the firm outlines that about 120 countries are developing ways to use the Internet as a weapon to target financial markets, government computer systems, and utilities.
Intelligence agencies already routinely test other states' networks looking for weaknesses and their techniques are growing more sophisticated every year, it said.
"Cybercrime is now a global issue," said Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Avert Labs. "It has evolved significantly and is no longer just a threat to industry and individuals but increasingly to national security."
The report said China is at the forefront of the cyber war. It said China has been blamed for attacks in the United States, India, and Germany. China has repeatedly denied such claims.
"The Chinese were first to use cyberattacks for political and military goals," James Mulvenon, director of the Center for Intelligence and Research in Washington, was quoted as saying in the report.
The report was compiled with input from academics and officials from Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, and NATO.
Cyberattacks on private and government Web sites in Estonia in April and May this year were "just the tip of the iceberg", the report warned.