Malware's the next nuclear bomb: Kaspersky

Summary:Governments have begun to create malware in the form of cyberweapons, but given that there's no defence against them, they should be handled like nuclear bombs, according to Kaspersky Labs CEO Eugene Kaspersky.

Governments have begun to create malware in the form of cyberweapons, but given that there's no defence against them, they should be handled like nuclear bombs, according to Kaspersky Labs CEO Eugene Kaspersky.

Eugene Kaspersky
(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

"Many countries have already announced they have military cyberdivisions," Kaspersky said at the Kaspersky Lab Cyber Conference 2012 in Cancun, Mexico, quickly recalling from memory a number of countries including the US, Japan, China, North and South Korea, and India.

"Countries have started to develop cyberweapons to be prepared for cyberwars, but ... they understand that there is no defence."

Kaspersky pointed to the example of Stuxnet, malware that while being highly targeted, could have gone horribly wrong. He worried that a targeted attack on a single power station could bring down many others around the world if it were for some reason not written correctly.

In that case, he said that developed countries had the most to lose, due to their inability to defend against such attacks and the higher adoption rate of technology.

"North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia — these countries depend on IT systems much more than others."

However, as these countries are the same ones that are developing cyberweapons, Kaspersky said that more needed to be done to control their use and distribution, comparing them to how nuclear weapons and materials are controlled.

"I think the same we need to do to protect us against future internet wars because it's too dangerous."

He proposed that an international organisation be formed to provide a supervision function for other governments, which he has initially called the International Cyber Security Agency.

"[It's an] international organisation to get governments to agree about control and non-distribution of cyberweapons," he said, adding that it would be important to oppose the use of cyberweapons because "in the cyberworld, anything you do in a wrong way is a boomerang".

"The victim will learn and the boomerang will get back to you."

Kaspersky said that there would always be a need for existing organisations like Interpol, but that the thought of cyberweapons and cyberwar was what kept him up at night and that it needed to be controlled.

Michael Lee travelled to the Cyber Conference 2012 as a guest of Kaspersky Labs.

Topics: Security, Malware

About

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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