More than 50 Malaysian government websites were hacked this week, the latest instance in a wave of cyber attacks that has targeted government and corporate sites alike across the world.
In the case of Malaysia, the attack was reportedly by an Internet vigilante group called Anonymous over recent acts of censorship by the government. Other attacks on multinational firms and institutions, from Citigroup to the CIA and the International Monetary Fund, have also raised concerns about cyber security everywhere.
The Pentagon is testing new technologies, while South Korea, the most wired nation in the world, is working on a cyber security master plan that could become a blueprint for other countries grappling with rising cyber security threats.
While the attacks have been widespread, they have raised questions about whether emerging nations and their corporations, in particular, are at greater risk.
"Emerging Markets are particularly vulnerable to cyber threats because they typically do not have enough dedicated resources for network security," said Erin Nealy Cox, executive managing director at Stroz Friedberg, a US-based computer forensics firm.
The up-tick in attacks lately, is partly from "hactivist"s, as well as for insider information and corporate espionage in general, she said. The latter is particularly worrying for EM companies, as any network that is unsophisticated yet contains important data -- such as payment card data, personally identifiable information, and/or insider information -- is vulnerable.
"This becomes a particular problem in emerging markets as these tend to be fast growing companies with unsophisticated network security," Cox told FT Tilt via e-mail.
Countries such as India and the Philippines, with fast growing software services sectors and which are preferred outsourcing destinations, may also make obvious targets. As might countries that are looking to impose internet curbs, as China and India have done lately.
But it boils down to how much individual companies spend on network security, and in that developed countries are not necessarily better protected than developing countries, said Craig Skinner, a senior consultant at Ovum in Melbourne.
"Larger businesses just tend to be better prepared than smaller and medium businesses. And policy, even in developed countries, is not as far along as it should be," he said.
"What this recent spate of attacks has done is make the risk more visible, bring it front and centre of corporations and governments everywhere. So we're going to see bigger budgets for network security, more legislation across the board, and perhaps greater cooperation between the private sector and the government, and between governments."
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