McAfee Warns of Impending 'Cyber Cold War'

Dennis Faas's picture

The Cold War ended almost twenty years ago. After decades of tension between the two nuclear superpowers, the Russian people opted for democracy and economic change, taking a much different political stance than dictators like Stalin and Krushchev.

Now, it seems something else is ready to replace the Soviets in threatening American -- and global -- national security. Some analysts now fear that the world is about to be crushed within the icy grasp of a "cyber cold war".

The frightening concept comes after prominent security company McAfee released their annual report last week. According to the new study, over 120 countries are now engaged in developing tools for using the web as a weapon, targeting home and corporate users, their bank accounts, stocks, and even the computer systems of their governments. (Source:

There's little doubt that the report is meant to be a wake-up call. According to Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Avert Labs, "Cybercrime is now a global issue...It has evolved significantly and is no longer just a threat to industry and individuals but increasingly to national security." (Source:

So, is there a new Soviet Union?

Although it's difficult to blame the Soviets exclusively for the decades-long Cold War, McAfee seems willing to pin the future of cyber crime on one nation above all others. The security company is pointing a finger straight at rising giant China, blaming it for recent attacks on the United States, Germany, and even India. The communist regime in China has, as expected, denied any involvement in such attacks.

James Mulvenon, director of Washington's Center for Intelligence and Research, agrees with McAfee. "The Chinese were first to use cyber-attacks for political and military goals," he said. To some, that makes them the granddaddy of these cyber cold war offences, and given their government structure could make threats a problem in the near and distant future.

Indeed, it's the future that concerns McAfee the most. "Attacks have progressed from initial curiosity probes to well-funded and well-organised operations for political, military, economic and technical espionage," the report said.

Whether it's subversive Chinese agents or teen hackers from New Zealand, it seems cyber crime is indeed about to become nothing less than a cyber cold war.

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