UK cyber security professionals have identified Russia and China as the countries that produce the most skilled hackers, according to a survey carried out by information security consultancy MWR InfoSecurity. 34 percent believed that the hackers with the highest skills come from Russia, with China in second at 18%. Almost a third of respondents surveyed at a recent IT conference linked the success of their overseas counterparts to a combination of more investment, better education, and political motivations.
Russia has long been recognised for being behind various malware strains and exploits. Recently, it was reported that Russian hackers had succeeded in exploiting a bug in Microsoft Windows dubbed Sandworm to conduct cyber espionage on NATO and Western government agencies. Meanwhile, the FBI has issued a warning to businesses on the threat of attacks originating from China.
“Attribution to a specific nation or group is a very difficult task as attackers will often masquerade their activities in order to hide their real identities,” said Martyn Ruks, Technical Director at MWR InfoSecurity. “Hackers from both Russia and China are often cited for being behind many of the attacks that are highlighted in the public domain, but it is important we don’t jump to conclusions without solid evidence.”
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Interestingly, almost three-quarters (73%) of IT professionals surveyed attributed the success that other countries have had with hacking to investment (11%), better education (14%) political motivations (17%) or a combination of all three (31%).
“The findings clearly show the perception that hackers in countries like Russia and China are better funded and educated,” continued Ruks. “Regardless of whether this perception is true or not, the UK should take this as an indicator that cyber really needs to start making its way up the social and political agendas. Training security consultants so they are armed with the specialist knowledge to protect against today’s threats is vitally important. If we are to keep pace with hackers, we must understand the nature of attacks in order to best defend against them.”
Just 10% of respondents thought that the UK produced the most skilled hackers, a statistic that Ruks said he would like to see increase. “MWR is proud to sponsor challenges and events that aim to attract and discover talent within the IT security industry. Events such as MWR’s HackFu that bring together the UK’s top talent in information security are specifically designed to teach the skills needed to increase our capability to defend ourselves — something that is vital to our economic well being.”
Last month, MWR found that 75% of IT professionals thought that a lack of cyber skills in the UK makes it a soft target for criminals.
By Martyn Ruks, Technical Director, MWR InfoSecurity
About MWR InfoSecurity
Established in 2003, MWR InfoSecurity is a research-led information security consultancy, with a client list consisting of Dow Jones, NASDAQ, FTSE 100 companies and Government agencies & departments. MWR consults with clients around the world, providing specialist advice and services on all areas of security, from mobile through to supercomputers.
Central to its philosophy is the desire to deliver high quality cyber security consulting services and unsurpassed levels of support to clients. MWR’s focus is working with clients to develop and deliver a full security programme, tailored to meet the needs of each individual organisation.
MWR’s services range across professional and managed services, technical solutions and training covering areas such as security research, incident response, web defense, phishing, mobile and payment security.