Cyber attacks and web defacements have increased dramatically since the start of the war against Iraq, according to security firm F-Secure.
More than 1,000 sites were hacked in the first 48 hours of the conflict, F-Secure said, with many of the attacks containing anti-war slogans.
Security consultancy mi2g is now predicting that the war against Iraq will make March the worst month for digital attacks since records began in 1995.
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It predicted that the resulting global lost productivity and cost of recovery would be between $2.1bn (£1.3bn) and $2.6bn (£1.7bn) for March alone.
So far this month UK, US, Australian and South Korean websites had been worst affected by cyber attacks, mi2g said. It detected 5,646 attacks against US online interests up until 21 March. This is greater than the 4,365 attacks recorded against all other victims across the globe for the same period.
“We have been observing the coupling between physical war and cyber warfare since March 1999 when the Nato-Serbia conflict began,” said DK Matai, Executive Chairman at mi2g. “We are expecting retaliatory digital attacks that cause economic disruption to escalate further.
"When civilian casualties mount as some bombs go astray or a sensitive interest is accidentally targeted such as the Chinese embassy incident in Belgrade, further cyber mayhem can be expected in the shape of digital attacks or fast spreading viruses and worms with political content.”
Some 71% of all digital attacks recorded in during the month so far were against Linux systems, compared to only 24% against Windows, mi2g said.