Report shows most online spying conducted by governments

The annual Data Breach Investigations Report from Verizon Communications, Inc. shows that 87 percent of electronic spying attacks in 2013 can be attributed to governments, including the US government.

The report, however, didn't specify the US government's share in this total. It also said 11 percent of electronic espionage attacks were conducted by organized criminals.

Overall, the Verizon report found out that electronic espionage is increasing sharply worldwide. It identified China and other East Asian nations as the origin of 49 percent of espionage attacks. Eastern European countries, especially Russian-speaking nations, were suspected to be the origin of 21 percent of the hack attacks. Some 25 percent of spying incidents could not be attributed to attackers from any country.

The overall number of spying incidents studied tripled to 511 from total in the 2013, said the report. Much of this increase, however, was due to the addition of new data sources.

The report also discovered that attacks against big business, which hog headlines, have been decreasing. Fewer intrusions of this kind were reported to the Verizon team than in past years, even as the number of report contributors has multiplied.

"The media frenzy makes quite a splash, but from a frequency standpoint, this largely remains a small-and-medium business issue," the study said. 

The survey, which is one of the most comprehensive annual studies of computer intrusions, drew more than half of its data from victims in the United States. Investigators from Verizon, Intel Corp's McAfee, Kaspersky Labs and other private companies and public agencies contributed data to the report.

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