The growth of cyber espionage is a threat to national security, according to a new report by McAfee.

Cyber espionage operations are being performed in 120 countries by governments and organisations for political, military, economic and technical gains. Many governments targeted by cyber spies are unaware of the threats and are vulnerable to progressively refined cyberattacks.

The internet is used to launch cyberattacks on national infrastructure network systems, including electricity, air traffic control, financial markets and government computer networks.

The assault on Estonian government, banks and media organisations’ servers in May, was only the beginning of a new wave of attacks, according to the McAfee Virtual Criminology report, compiled with the assistance of industry experts and organisations including NATO, the FBI and SOCA.

Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Avert Labs and product development, believes that cybercrime is a global issue that will get worse if it is not dealt with.

In a statement he said: “It has evolved significantly and is no longer just a threat to industry and individuals but increasingly to national security. We’re seeing emerging threats from increasingly sophisticated groups attacking organisations around the world.”

The threats to national security are expected to get worse throughout the coming year, according to the report.