A FULL-SCALE cyber war is predicted between countries this year, according to security provider Ward Solutions.
The provider also predicts that law enforcement agencies around the world will begin to use cyber tactics offensively in 2018.
Last year saw a significant escalation in the number of cyber-attacks levied against countries, and Ward Solutions believes that 2018 will see similar growth in the number of attacks, with large numbers of the civilian population expected feel the impact.
What will change, according to the information security provider, is how countries react to cyber-aggression, with many counties, including a number of Nato allies, drafting cyber warfare principles.
Ward Solutions said it expects governments to adopt combative cyber strategies tackling both aggressive countries and state-backed cyber criminals.
"2018 will see cyber security threats increase further in sophistication and the amount of damage that they can potentially cause," Pat Larkin, CEO, Ward Solutions, said.
"We would expect certain nations to go on the offensive against hackers and launch coordinated cyber campaigns to disable them before they have the chance to strike. Offensive cyber strategies will become a key element in countries' national defence plans, helping them to prevent attacks," Mr Larkin continued.
The company also predicts cyber criminals will embrace artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, using them to supplement their attacks and circumvent the advanced cyber security tools employed by businesses.