In this new scenario, a single piece of malware often has multiple characteristics. Its digital signatures can morph to evade detection. At the same time, it can spin off decoys intended to be caught to make it appear as if an attack has been thwarted.
The recent sophisticated attacks on Google should be a "wake-up call,” Blair said. His remarks echoed recent reports that show the problem is not only coming from clever hackers, advanced viruses, or organized cybercrime gangs – but from “nation states,” too.
"Many [of the most sophisticated attackers] have the capabilities to target elements of the US information infrastructure for intelligence collection, intellectual property theft, or disruption," Blair said.
More than half of the 600 IT managers operating critical infrastructure in 14 countries reported being recently hit by "high-level" adversaries such as organized crime, terrorists or nation states, according to a new global survey of information technology executives by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington late last month.
A majority of the group hit, 59 percent, said they thought their computer networks and controls systems were under "repeated cyberattack, often from high-level adversaries like foreign nation-states."