China accounts for 41 percent of global computer attack traffic

China accounts for 41 percent of global computer attack traffic

Summary: Perhaps there's something in China's allegations that the United States is just as bad.

TOPICS: China, Malware, Security

A new security report points the finger at China as the main source of malicious computer attacks — and puts the United States in second.

china united states responsible 41 percent cyberattacks global worldwide

In a report due to be released today by Akamai Technologies, the security firm says that the Asian country is accountable for 41 percent of all global computer-attack traffic. As reported by Bloomberg, the latest statistic suggests that cyberattacks from China have risen over three times from last year. In addition, there has been a 33 percent hike from the last quarter.

China has long fought accusations of being a persistent source of cyberattacks, and rigorously denied suggestions that some of these attacks are either state-sponsored or military-based. In February, security firm Mandiant said an "overwhelming" number of cyberattacks originate from China — and many were traced back to a military building in Shanghai. Chinese officials dismissed the report, calling the evidence "groundless."

The United States, however, is far from blameless. According to the report, the U.S. comes in second as a major source of cyberattacks, and is responsible for ten percent of all global attack traffic. In the last quarter, the country was held accountable for 13 percent of cyberattacks. 

The situation between the United States and China is already strained; President Obama recently stated that cybercrime is now a "key" topic in talks with the Asian country.

Turkey, although not often associated with cyberattacks, came in third in Akamai's report, apparently 4.7 percent of all hacking traffic originating from the country. Russia was given fourth place with 4.3 percent of cyberattack originations and Taiwan came in fifth, claiming 3.7 percent of the world's attack traffic.

In comparison, Verizon's 2013 Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) also blamed China for cyberattacks and pointed the finger at the country as a main instigator of data breaches. China topped a list of threat origins, claiming 30 percent of data breaches, 96 percent of which were linked to cyber-espionage. Romania came in second at 28 percent and the United States trailed in third with 18 percent. Bulgaria and Russia took fourth and fifth place.

However, it may not just be external threats we should worry about, but also the risk generated through our own psychology. Earlier this month, speaking at the 2013 RSA Conference, Akamai's chief security officer Andy Ellis suggested that human reaction to risk factors is a common problem when attempting to defend against cybercrime. Ellis argues that even if security experts warn a firm about potential risks to their networks or company infrastructure, business leaders may have a psychological disposition to either tolerate a certain amount of risk, or even to seek it out. Although our top priorities should be in securing a business and increasing profit, human risk factors can often be as much to blame as outdated security protocols.

Topics: China, Malware, Security

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  • As I see it...

    the biggest problems is our frustration with our own government in the lack of support to our innovative entrepreneurs, and giving us some kind of action in the face of this onslaught. You made a good point in showing that we can be just as guilty in doing the same thing to the rest of the world; but we are few in number compared to the huge potential market in China, and the armies of 'crackers' they can employ.
  • US just as bad?

    The article summary "Perhaps there's something in China's allegations that the United States is just as bad. " is counterfactual and typical political correctness. I had hoped ZDNet could avoid this disease. From the article,
    China accountable for 41 percent of all global computer-attack traffic.
    while the US..was held accountable for 13 percent of cyberattacks
    How is that equivalent? If the US was accountable for 41 percent of all cyber attacks our media would say the US is responsible for the world's problems. If it is anyone else well.. ya gotta understand that it is Americas fault anyway. More liberal jive.
    • Thanks jdubow...

      My focus is on the inaction and lack of understanding from our law enforcement on the US side. What chance do we have as individuals against the huge consortium that exist in the PRC?
      • How many of the US-based attacks originated in the US?

        I would be interested in seeing how much of the "attack" traffic from the US came from machines that were compromised by foreign attackers. Not being a xenophobe, just wanting to point out the obvious that many of the machines involved in botnets are being controlled by others. A little more digging on this might yield some interesting results.
  • Author

    Just wondering how a person that is a medical anthropologist, journalist, graphic designer and former teacher, qualify to write anything related to computers/hacking/cyber anything?
    • Author

      I think she is one of the most qualified, unlike a lot of the arty farties and self-taughts on the ZDNET staff.

      (1) She has a genuine science qualification .
      (2) Her style is very analytical which I prefer instead of jumping to conclusions.
      (3) Her teaching experience is a great resource when communicating ideas/concepts.
      (4) She's much hotter than Jason Perlow.
  • Gawd, another rubbish report

    Like the Mandiant and Verizon reports before it, Akamai has no real stature in cybersecurity research, and it looks again that it blames China via shoddy analysis, as well as completely missing how cybercriminals actually work, especially in their use of botnets. I suggest anyone curious about why I'm so skeptical about all these reports to Google up two three things: "The United States of ZeroAccess" (an F-Secure map of a Russian-based botnet that also operates out of China), "Trend Micro Global Botnet Threat Activity Map" (Trend Micro's active botnet map), and "BotHunter Live Internet Monitor Page Computer Science Laboratory" (SRI's botnet detection database.)

    All these bogus cyber threat reports that have been coming out this year somehow makes me feel that they are politically-connected. (When dealing with things that make no sense and smell funny, always suspect politics.)
    • Sceptical

      JustCallMeBC has a point but it should not distract from genuine focused hacking attacks.
      I believe the real status is a combination of both.
      It all hinges on how they define a cyber attack.
  • Hmmmm

    First, I don't think Akamai Technologies is just a security firm. They also provide bandwith and server technology. For example, if you are downloading an ISO from Microsoft, there is a good chance it is an Akamai server where you are getting it from.
    Not surprised China leads in attacks. It is still a Communist country where power is still king over money. In comparison, I'm sure Russia is one of the leaders in phishing scams.