Industry News

China Chief Source of Cyber-Espionage-Type Attacks, Study Says

With about 40 percent of the world’s computer attack traffic in 2012, China provided most IP addresses linked to data breaches, according to a Verizon report. More than 95 percent were used in cyber espionage against private and state department sectors.

China was the country of origin for most computer breaches, according to Verizon study Data Breach Investigation Report. This doesn’t necessarily prove that China is the most aggressive region in terms of cyber-attacks, but rather that the country has permissive legislative that “allows” miscreants to use Chinese resources in attacks.

“We are not going with the ‘China is bad and scary’ message. Rather, it’s certainly big and an important part of the entire picture, and it is definitely an up and coming [trend] in the security landscape,” Verizon’s Patrick Lum told ZDNet Asia.

China ranks as the top country in terms of origin of threats, with 30 percent of data breaches, followed by Romania, with 28 percent and the US, with 18 percent. Bulgaria was fourth and Russia fifth.

Unlike the attacks launched from China, which were mostly linked to cyber-espionage, assaults from Romania, the US, Bulgaria and Russia generally sought to make money.

“This may mean that other threat groups perform their activities with greater stealth and subterfuge, but it could also mean that China is, in fact, the most active source of national and industrial espionage in the world today,” according to the study based on 47,000 reported security incidents and 621 confirmed breaches.

Bloomberg wrote that a report by Akamai Technologies due to be published today also found China responsible “for 41 percent of the world’s computer-attack traffic in the fourth quarter of last year,” while the US ranks second with some 10 percent.

Other Verizon findings:

  • 37 percent of breaches hit financial organizations;
  • 24 percent of breaches happened in retail and restaurants;
  • 20 percent of network intrusions involved manufacturing, transportation and utilities;
  • 38 percent of breaches were aimed at large companies;
  • 92 percent of breaches were perpetrated by outsiders;
  • 19 percent were attributed to state-affiliated actors.

About the author


A blend of teacher and technical journalist with a pinch of e-threat analysis, Loredana Botezatu writes mostly about malware and spam. She believes that most errors happen between the keyboard and the chair. Loredana has been writing about the IT world and e-security for well over five years and has made a personal goal out of educating computer users about the ins and outs of the cybercrime ecosystem.