Companies that run key public infrastructure assets like electric utilities, oil refineries and banks are regularly victims cyberattcks, says a Wall Street Journal report. Cyber attacks are often coupled with extortion demands, according to the report commissioned by the computer antivirus company McAfee, which found that 20 percent of the 601 companies and government agencies surveyed said they had been a victim of such an attack within the past two years.
In the survey, approximately 100 executives were American, and between 20 to 50 participated from each of 13 other countries, including China, Russia, and the U.K. Among the executives surveyed, 54 percent said their company had been the subject of infiltration, according to the survey, and two thirds of those companies said the attacks had harmed company operations.
The report said that executives surveyed believe the U.S. is the greatest aggressor in cyberspace, but also said the U.S. was among the most vulnerable to cyber attack because of its dependence on the Internet. The survey found that rates of extortion were highest in the oil and gas sector, where 31 percent of executives reported their companies had been victimized by such a scheme, followed closely by electric utilities at 27 percent. Extortion plots were most common in India, the Middle East, and China and were least prevalent in the U.S. and the U.K.
The executives cited in the report said that the U.S. and China are the most worrisome cyber attackers. The U.S. was rated most aggressive by 36 percent of executives, followed by China at 33 percent. The countries most worried about the U.S. are China, where 89 percent were most worried about the U.S., followed by Brazil, Spain, Mexico and Russia. Chinese companies reported the highest rate of adopting security measures to counter cyber threats, the survey found. Meanwhile, the report said that 21 percent of the executives in the financial sector said they had experienced cyber attacks carrying extortion threats. Meanwhile, 59 percent of financial service executives said they had experienced a common penetration attack in the past couple years, compared to 57 percent of government respondents and 66 percent of energy executives.