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63% of web users ok with UK cyber-spying on other countries

Denial of Service attacks for financial gain are acceptable too

Nearly two thirds (63 percent) of web users think it's acceptable for their country to spy on other nations using malware or hacking techniques, says Sophos.

According to the security firm's '2010 mid-year Security Threat Report', nearly half (49 percent) think a denial-of-service (DoS) attack on another country to bring down their financial or communications services is okay during wartime, while seven percent admitted they think it's okay to carry out a DoS attack against another nation at any time.

Furthermore, nearly a third (32 percent) believe countries should be allowed to plant malware and hack into private companies in other countries for economic advantage.

"It's perhaps surprising that so many people seem to think that using the internet as a tool for spying, or even as a weapon, is acceptable practice," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

"After all, by giving the green light to these kind of activities you'd also have to expect to be on the receiving end too. Maybe yours will be the next company probed by an overseas power?"

The research also revealed the US is the country with the biggest number of malware-hosting websites in the world. Sophos said 42 percent of the world's malicious websites were hosted in America, closely followed by China and Russia, which were responsible for 10.75 percent and 6.13 percent.

The UK came sixth in the list, accounting for 2.41 percent of the world's malicious websites.

"Although website owners in the US clearly have a lot of cleaning up to do, France, Italy and the Netherlands have all joined this top ten since the start of the year, so it's far from an isolated problem," said Cluley.

"The biggest issue is that a lot of these websites are legitimate ones that have been targeted by hackers - businesses could end up infecting their customers, leaving them open to fraud."

See also: Hunt on for UK cyber security champions

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