A new report from Internet security provider Riptech shows that Internet attacks grew at an annualized rate of 64% during the first six months of 2002, with public companies facing a 50% higher risk of cyber attack than private firms, nonprofits or government entities.

"One thing our report found was that the more visible a company is, the more vulnerable it is to attack," said Riptech CTO Tim Belcher in an interview with Fleet Owner. "We're also starting to see a 'maturing' in these attacks as groups and individuals committing these crimes get more sophisticated."

Arlington, VA-based Riptech developed its Internet Security Threat Report based on an analysis of attacks against its 400-client base. The company found that of the one-million attacks against its clients in the last six months, some 180,000 were determined to be "real," meaning that those efforts went beyond low-impact malicious pranks.

The report did not include the Worm computer virus activity as that data would have skewed the report's numbers, Belcher said. The Worm is considered to be an e-mail prank and not a virus sent with malicious intent.

Ritech's analysis reveals that a highly focused, small demographic of elite hackers comprising less than 1% of all cyber assailants cause the most damage. Also, the report found that energy companies have been hit with the most cyber attacks, followed by financial services firms and high-tech companies. The report also reveals that 80% of all Internet attacks originate from only 10 countries – the United States, Germany, South Korea, China, France, Canada, Italy, Taiwan, Great Britain and Japan.

Belcher said that there is no perfect solution or "magic bullet" when it comes to Internet security as threats and attack methods evolve over time. He said that security firewalls do work but only partially unless they are monitored constantly.