The phrase ‘cyber warfare' appears as if it is ubiquitous at present. With the recent shocking Stuxnet attack, and attacks on a range of government sites across the globe, a number of observers have warned that we are heading into a new era of conflict.
Some critics, on the other hand, argue that this couldn't be further from the truth. It is reasoned that a number of the IT companies who are warning of the threat of cyber warfare are the ones who stand to benefit more than any other in the event of governments around the world decide to take concerted action.
Further, many people believe that there are a number of countries which already have the cyber equivalent of nuclear weaponry (and the group is believed to be pretty similar to those who possess actual nuclear weaponry) and the likelihood of them becoming engaged in a war of mutual cyber extinction seems fairly remote.
Research released last month, on the other hand, reveals that in the UK cyber crime is a truly worrying issue. More than £25bn was taken out of the economy just last year on the back of cyber criminals, and with police struggling to get a grip on the problem that number looks likely to climb higher.
One of the problems when it comes to cyber criminals is that the people who commit such indiscretions often have little fear of being prosecuted, and with good reason. In spite of the massive amounts of cash being stolen in cyber crime cases, so far there have been surprisingly few actual sentences.
Yet another handicap is that many of the enterprises that have been struck by cyber criminals are unwilling to come forward for fear of negative PR. Accordingly a proportion of cyber crime is going uninvestigated.
The good news for customers is that of that £27bn, just a relatively reduced percentage was suffered by individuals and banks (many individuals judge that internet banking is a significant risk) have taken extensive steps to protect themselves. In addition, if you have broadband through a top class supplier like Sky, you may find that they build in protection measures for you.
Cyber theft, and cyber war, might seem like the stuff of science fiction, but they are a real concern at the moment and something that we, as consumers, should be wary of. That said, if you're careful and have recently updated anti-virus software, you shouldn't have an issue.