Security experts are warning that the world is entering a new era of cyber crime dominated by state-sponsored hacking and malware attacks.
The Mid-year 2010 Security Threat Report (PDF) from Sophos reveals some surprising public attitudes to this growing trend.
A quarter of respondents indicated that nations should be allowed to spy by hacking and installing malware on the networks of foreign companies.
This figure creeps up to two-thirds when it is added to those respondents who think it only right to use cyber attacks during wartime.
More than half of respondents also said that it would be acceptable for a country to launch a distributed denial-of-service attack against another country's web sites.
Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley explained that state-sponsored cyber crime has been a hot topic ever since the Operation Aurora attacks on Google and others came to light in January.
"In the early days, virus writing was a hobbyist activity. More recently many of us have lived with the scourge of financially motivated malware designed to steal information and money from its victims," he wrote in a blog post.
"The money motive isn't going to disappear anytime soon. But I do believe that more evidence is emerging of people using malware and hacking for economic, political and even military ends."
The report also found that criminals are greatly increasing the use of social networks to spread spam, malware and phishing attacks.
Previous Sophos research has shown that at least a third of people are 'highly likely' to ditch their Facebook accounts owing to privacy concerns.
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