Governments are the worst hackers

Governments are one of the biggest cyber attackers in the world, according to the Freedom House human rights group.

A report with the catchy title “Freedom on the Net 2011″ has been published by Freedom House, which looks at the state of free speech online in 37 countries.

The report names and shames 12 countries where state cyberattacks against citizens were getting worse. In almost two thirds, bloggers and less prominent users face government harassment or arrest for expressing their views.

High-risk countries include Jordan, Russia, Thailand, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. China, Iran, and Belarus. Tunisia was bad but is now in a state of flux, the report said.

The world’s worst hacker still has to be the Chinese government, which if it is not busy targeting its own citizens is trying to get into the computers of other governments, Freedom says.

To be fair to the Chinese, not all attacks on dissent have come from the government, but if they are freelancers they are certainly working for Beijing’s interests.

These have included DDoS attacks on human rights groups, hitting hacks with poisoned emails and sponsoring huge hacking raids on defence and technology companies in the United States.

Despite China’s high profile attacks on its citizens, it is Iran which is the worst place in the world to try and say something against the regime online.

Recently the country has been building fibre optic connections and created a young internet-savvy political class.

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fudged the July 2009 presidential election the government had to slow down the net to stop people sharing the news.

A government-commandeered hacking group called the Iranian Cyber Army turned over opposition sites.

Some months later, Iranian officials confirmed the Iranian Cyber Army was under the command of the IRGC, or the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Another place where fraudulent elections found a popular outcry was Belarus.

In 2010 the government created DDoS assaults on opposition sites. It also shut off the internet from the rest of the world. This year the government shut down any site that disagreed with the government and anyone who complained were raided by coppers.

One online activitist was hanged from a stairway at his summer home in September 2010. The government called suicide, but it sounds like questioning the Belarus government is suicide,

Freedom puts Britain in the top five – and the most free place in the world is Estonia.