Hacking attempts across the globe are likely to top one billion in the final quarter of 2012, according to estimations by the NCC Group.

The information assurance firm, which works with more than 90 percent of the FTSE 100, identified 981 million hacking attempts worldwide during the third quarter of this year. The total is an increase of 23 million on the previous three months, adding to four previous quarters of steady increases.

These findings, detailed in a report produced by the company called “Origin of Hacks”, includes a list of the top countries where hacking attempts originate from.

The United States came out as number one, with one in five (20.8 percent) hacks coming from people living inside the country. This is perhaps not surprising, given that the country also came out on top in the previous two quarters for 2012. Russia meanwhile saw the largest growth in hack attempts, with a total increase of almost 70 million in quarter three compared to quarter two of 2012.

The top ten are as follows:

  • United States – 20.8%
  • Russia – 19.1%
  • China – 16.3%
  • Ukraine – 3.6%
  • Germany – 2.4%
  • South Korea – 2.3%
  • Romania – 1.9%
  • India – 1.8%
  • Taiwan – 1.7%
  • Brazil – 1.7%

The NCC Group now predicts that hacking attempts will surpass one billion in quarter four. Rob Cotton, CEO of NCC Group, said passing that figure “is a milestone no-one should be proud of.”

“We’ve had copious initiatives and plans announced in the last quarter from bodies and governments aimed at addressing this issue,” he said. “But the urgency just doesn’t seem to correlate with the growing threat.”

He added:

“In the last quarter, we’ve had news from William Hague about: a plan to recruit 100 members of ‘generation Xbox’ to help fight cyber crime; a scheme from the foreign office to offer advice to business leaders on tackling cyber threats; and, news that we have begun tentative talks with China and Russia about setting up a hotline to help prevent cyber-emergencies from spiraling out of control.

This shows a real awareness of the ever-growing problem but these initiatives alone are not going to solve the problem. Public and private sector must work together, strategically and tactically, if we are going to be able to realistically defend against a billion hacks a quarter.”

The United Kingdom was one of the few areas to see a decrease in the number of hacking attempts sourced by local people. It is said to have fallen by five million during the third quarter, pushing them outside of the global top 10 produced by the NCC Group.

These figures shouldn’t be surprising, given the number of successful high profile hacks that have occurred over the last few months. For starters, the hacktivist group GhostShell leaked an alleged 2.5 million accounts and records in Russia earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the infamous group and movement known as Anonymous hacked the Greek Ministry of Finance and released documents late in October. Both were examples of hacking attempts affecting large numbers of people and institutions that are recognizable to ordinary citizens. The problem, it seems, isn’t going away anytime soon.

Image Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images