The escalation of nation-state cyber warfare is only going to get worse despite attempts between leading nations to put 'rules of engagement' in place, according to Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at security firm F-Secure.
Hyppönen (pictured) told V3 at the IP Expo event in London that recent discussions between the US and China are welcomed and mark the beginning of a long cyber truce process.
"I think it's good that they agreed on something. It's good that [the governments] are talking. It's good that we have terms like 'cyber-disarmament' on the table," he said.
"We have to start talking about rules of engagement. We have to start talking about minimising risk to third parties, about attribution of cyber arms. We have to start by putting it on the table and discussing it."
However, Hyppönen warned that the situation between nation states will get worse before any real progress is made.
"It's not going to happen any time soon. In fact we have only seen the very beginning of the cyber arms race. It's going to get much bigger and more active until it gets better," he said.
His comments echo those by Leo Taddeo, former FBI special agent in charge of the New York cyber division, who was also sceptical the talks would lead to change.
Yet while China has been responsible for much of the malicious activity, Hyppönen maintained that the US, alongside the rest of the countries that make up the Five Eyes agreement, remains the most well equipped when it comes to cyber attacks.
"The US has the best expertise, the best access to exploits, the biggest budgets," he told V3.
Beyond the Five Eyes nations - an agreement between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US - Hyppönen lists Russia as another major threat actor.
Most recently, F-Secure conducted research into a cyber threat named The Dukes operating from Russia and responsible for cyber attacks against many locations, including the White House.
"The thing most telling about The Dukes is that when they get caught they change nothing. They are not worried about getting caught," he told V3.
"We named their IP addresses, their command-and-control servers, their encryption algorithms, their malware hashes, and they changed nothing. Obviously they are breaking the law but they are not worried about the police."
This indicates that the group is government sanctioned, according to Hyppönen, mirroring the infrastructure of China's hacking groups.
However, Hyppönen noted that nation states make up only a small part of the overall cyber threat landscape, with hacktivism still a major threat to businesses. He noted that many involved in these actions see nothing wrong with what they do.
"There are a lot of people, especially within hacktivist groups, who think that denial-of-service against a website is no different from having a protest outside the headquarters of the same company," he said.
"It's interesting to see that these people are willing to break the law, are willing to risk jail time for attacks where they get nothing for themselves, they get no benefit.
"They are not getting any money. In that sense I respect them more than I do criminals, who break the law to become rich which makes you a thief. However, the laws are very clear: it is illegal."
Hyppönen also warned that the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) poses a major problem for the future.
"It's quite obvious that the IoT is a mess. If you look around now everything is being run by computers, by software. We are no longer securing computers, we are securing society: securing the infrastructure and everything around us," said Hyppönen.
"Smart is the buzzword for exploitable. A smart tablet is an exploitable tablet, a smart car is an exploitable car and a smartwatch is an exploitable watch. That's how you think should think about it."
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