As cyber attacks continue to increase in frequency and impact, a new report polling 1,642 IT leaders reaffirms fears that there is no plateau in sight.

In fact, it's just the opposite as the report from Pew Research Center predicts a huge cyber attack may occur in the next 10 years.

Some of those polled believe such an event has already happened, according to Jason Pontin, editor in chief and publisher of MIT Technology Review.

"Oh, sure it is possible. Although not at your defined level, there has already been a 'Pearl Harbor' event: the Stuxnet computer worm that was used to attack Iran's nuclear capabilities," stated Pontin. "Do we really believe that the infrastructure of a major industrial power will not be so attacked in the next 12 years? The Internet is an insecure network; all industrialized nations depend on it. They're wide open."

One of the themes of the security feedback is the vulnerability of web-connected systems. Respondents pointed to vulnerabilities in infrastructure, energy, finance and national defense.

"We are already witnessing the theft of trade secrets, with impact well worth tens of billions of dollars. We are also seeing active development of cyberweapons by many world powers," stated Christian Huitema, a Microsoft engineer. "Historically, such new weapons are always used at least once or twice before nations realize it is too dangerous and start relying on diplomacy."

Some of those polled, however, aren't convinced big bad attacks are coming. Tim Bray, a veteran of the technology industry and participant in the Internet Engineering Task Force, responded to the question with a reply of "no."

"I'm sure there will be devastating economic attacks against companies, sectors, and perhaps whole economies, mostly executed by criminals for gain," stated Bray. "But I don't anticipate much in the way of successful state versus state attacks."

The White House recently revealed hackers successfully gained access into its networks. The White House reported the cyberattacks weren't successful in accessing sensitive information, but the attempts may be harbingers for sophisticated attacks launched by state-funded groups against other nation states.

"Connectedness begets vulnerability," stated the affirmative answer from Jay Cross, the chief scientist at Internet Time Alliance, a consulting group that helps businesses learn how to innovate and work smarter.

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