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NORWAY HAS BEEN HIT with a major cyber attack that resulted in the theft of sensitive data from its oil and defence industries.
The attack, which is believed to have involved more than one person, employed malware laden emails specifically written to fool the individual recipient. Opening the email or attachment then released the virus onto the user's computer, where it performed a scan for files and passwords. Other forms of attack might also have been used.
"This is the first time Norway has unveiled such an extensive and widespread espionage attack," the Norwegian National Security Authority said, according to the Associated Press.
It added that this type of internet espionage is an extremely cost effective way for foreign intelligence services to gain information, particularly considering how well it produced results with such minimal risk. However, it refused to speculate on which nation or nations might have been behind the attack.
This is not the first time that Norway has been hit by cyber attacks. In 2010 its Nobel Institute web site was infected with a trojan horse virus after Liu Xiaobo, an activist in China, was given the Nobel Peace Prize. Virus filled emails were also sent to the Nobel Institute's email addresses.
The internet has increasingly become a battlefield for countries experiencing strained relations, with attacks ranging from infrastructurally devastating viruses like the Stuxnet worm to espionage cases like the ones UK Prime Minister David Cameron warned about earlier this month. As more people wake up to the potential of these attacks we are likely to see the figures grow, making cyber security just as important, if not more so, as defending physical borders. µ