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The Role of Malware in Reported Cyber Espionage: A Review of the Impact and Mechanism

Norwegian Information Security Laboratory, Center for Cyber and Information Security, Gjøvik University College, Teknologivn. 22, 2815 Gjøvik, Norway
Academic Editors: Qiong Huang and Guomin Yang
Information 2015, 6(2), 183-211;
Received: 9 April 2015 / Revised: 4 May 2015 / Accepted: 7 May 2015 / Published: 18 May 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cybersecurity and Cryptography)
PDF [180 KB, uploaded 19 May 2015]


The recent emergence of the targeted use of malware in cyber espionage versus industry requires a systematic review for better understanding of its impact and mechanism. This paper proposes a basic taxonomy to document major cyber espionage incidents, describing and comparing their impacts (geographic or political targets, origins and motivations) and their mechanisms (dropper, propagation, types of operating systems and infection rates). This taxonomy provides information on recent cyber espionage attacks that can aid in defense against cyber espionage by providing both scholars and experts a solid foundation of knowledge about the topic. The classification also provides a systematic way to document known and future attacks to facilitate research activities. Geopolitical and international relations researchers can focus on the impacts, and malware and security experts can focus on the mechanisms. We identify several dominant patterns (e.g., the prevalent use of remote access Trojan and social engineering). This article concludes that the research and professional community should collaborate to build an open data set to facilitate the geopolitical and/or technical analysis and synthesis of the role of malware in cyber espionage. View Full-Text
Keywords: cyber-espionage; advanced persistent threat (APT); review cyber-espionage; advanced persistent threat (APT); review

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Wangen, G. The Role of Malware in Reported Cyber Espionage: A Review of the Impact and Mechanism. Information 2015, 6, 183-211.

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