2012 saw an increased number of countries targeted by cyber weapons, with African countries such as Egypt and Sudan hit for the first time.
According to cyber security experts Kaspersky Lab, prior to last year cyber weapons had only targeted Iran, using the Stuxnet and Duqu weapons.
The number of cyber weapons has now increased to five, now including Gauss, Flame and miniflame. In total Africa has had 46 programmes used in attacks, mostly of Duqu, Flame and Gauss coding, with the Flame platform taking the highest toll.
Globally, however, the Duqu/Stuxnet framework continues to cause havoc, having being used in more than 300,000 incidents.
Lebanon tops the list, with malicious programmes reported totalling 1678, followed by Israel and the Palestinian authorities with 532 and 315 programs respectively. As in 2011 Iran remained the most hit with up to 2,000 incidences.
Kaspersky Lab concludes that, like traditional cyber weapons, most recent incidents are still motivated by financial gain, although industrial espionage is also high. Kaspersky Lab classifies industrial espionage as a second tier weapon, behind top level malware financed by governments against citizens, institutions and agencies in other countries.
The company then classifies the cyber weapons into three groups as destroyers, espionage programs and cyber sabotage tools, mostly supported by governments.
In general Kaspersky Lab sees 2012 as having “brought key revelations in the cyber weapon sphere, both in terms of the increase in security incidents and a greater understanding of how cyber weapons are being developed.”