Every business is on the frontline of the fight against cyber threats, says Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive of security firm Kaspersky Lab.
“Every company is a victim of cyber attacks, whether they know it or not,” he told attendees of Infosecurity Europe 2013 in London.
For this reason, he said, companies should be doing everything they can do to keep their data safe and to avoid being a stepping stone for attackers to go after higher level organisations.
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Enterprises have a critical role to play in stopping attackers from going up or down the supply chain, said Kaspersky. Even consumers had a duty to protect their computers and digital worlds.
Governments too, have a critical role to play, he said, especially in making critical IT systems more robust by moving them on to more secure operating systems (OS), networks and applications.
At present, all these elements are insecure, making it extremely difficult to defend critical infrastructures from attack.
“It is easier and cheaper for enemies to develop cyber weapons than it is to develop traditional weapons, and this could usher in an era of cyber weapons and cyber wars,” he said.
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Fortunately, the majority of the most sophisticated cyber attacks have been aimed at cyber espionage rather than destruction, but warned that “spies” are easily “weaponised” in the cyber world.
Although such software requires lots of money to develop and has so far been confined to nation states, Kaspersky said he feared it was “only a question of time” before terror groups gained the capability.
However, apart from this eventuality, he said the world has seen the worst of cyber attacks, and must now focus on finding ways to carry on as usual in the hostile environment.
In addition to bolstering defences around critical infrastructure, Kaspersky said government had an important role to play in ensuring there are enough people with cyber security skills.
He appealed to governments to do all they can to promote the acquisition of cyber security skills, introduce regulation to protect critical infrastructure, and promote international co-operation.
“The only way we are going to be successful in fighting cyber crime and other cyber threats is through international collaboration in the frontline against cyber threats,” he said.