Australia more likely attacked by accident than nation-state: Kaspersky

Australia's isolation from geo-political conflicts means it has few, if any, enemies that might try to harm it via online attacks, but it could get caught up in the collateral damage between other nation's battles.

Australia remains an unlikely target of a nation-state attack, according to Kaspersky Lab founder Eugene Kaspersky, but the country could get caught up in the collateral damage from other warring nations.

Speaking to ZDNet, Kaspersky said that it was more likely that Australian infrastructure would be attacked by accident.

Eugene Kaspersky. Photo: Michael Lee/ZDNet

"I don't expect any nation being behind the targeted attacks on Australian national security, but the collateral damage — the malware which is designed to damage other nations, by mistake, [could] damage the Australian infrastructure — this is possible."

Australia's relative political isolation also comes hand in hand with its relative physical network isolation.

Kaspersky said that malware faced a more difficult time spreading in Australia as the nation's connectivity wasn't "good enough." Although this provides some level of comfort for Australian businesses, it is also a double-edged sword.

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks could easy cripple Australian network bottlenecks, Kaspersky said, potentially causing disruption to the economy.

"The fact that there is not too wide a connection to the rest of the world actually makes Australia more vulnerable to DDoS attacks as a nation. It's easier to block internet links and it's not that you don't have access to your email, or your social networks [...] it also means a very big troubles to financial services."

Kaspersky's opinion of "cyberweapons" has remained unchanged from last year when he considered it necessary for them to be treated with the same caution as nuclear missiles . At Kaspersky Lab's previous Cyber Conference, he called for an International Cyber Security Agency to provide a supervisory function for government development of weaponised malware.

"It's the most clean weapon, because it's in the cyber, and at the same time it's the worst weapon because the damage is unpredictable. It's very easy to clone the technology. It's very easy to learn and it's not too expensive."

He said he expected a number of very serious incidents in the future, with hackers focusing on industrial control systems such as those responsible for maintaining electricity grids. However, he indicated that this was just one of the possible scenarios he had considered, with others being too dangerous to even talk to the media about.

"I have some scenarios in my mind, but I don't share these scenarios with journalists. I'm sorry, but the world is extremely vulnerable."

Whether or not these scenarios eventuate, Kaspersky was confident that it would be possible to recover.

"I'm expecting to see these attacks more and more, but I'm optimistic we will survive."