Cyber Threats

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The German Marshall Fund of the United States' annual Brussels Forum held this weekend included an impromptu session on cybersecurity.

Throughout the session, a web page was displayed on two large screens showing cyberattacks as they were occurring. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, it is not China that leads the list of counties from which cyberattacks are launched, but rather Russia (which isn't a surprise) and other Eastern European countries, plus Taiwan and Germany.

One of the panelists, Estonian President Toomas Ilves, whose country faced a concerted cyberattack six years ago, spoke of "a new form of public-private partnership, mafioso groups who rent themselves out to governments." For example, a group of hackers in Ukraine offer services to the FSB, the Russian intelligence service. The hackers promise not to steal credit card numbers within the Commonwealth of Independent States (former Soviet Union minus the Baltic states) in exchange for not being prosecuted. Moderator Nik Gowing of the BBC said he had heard "about towns in Eastern Europe whose business and economy is based on violating cybersecurity."

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