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the single largest group in terms of financial losses, and they certainly keep big businesses awake at night."He made the comments at a security summit which saw police forces from across the UK gather with officials from the technology industry to discuss the rising tide of cyber attacks.The top security official said there have been six operations against the highest-profile foreign and UK-based cyber criminals since the NCA was founded three years ago.Many Western journalists covering the Syrian conflict have suffered from these so-called phishing expeditions and regularly send alerts to each other warning of new malware techniques.But according to Fire Eye, a San Francisco-based company that advises corporations and governments on cyber threats, pro-Assad hackers also set up a matchmaking site—the company doesn’t give the name—populating it with women’s profiles indicating their age, location and interests, as well as other personal information. Cyber spooks groomed insurgent commanders, political activists and even aid workers on Skype, ensnaring them in “conversations with seemingly sympathetic and attractive women,” according to Fire Eye researchers.

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This intelligence likely serves a critical role in the adversary’s operational plans and tactical decisions.”The extent to which these stratagems may have targeted ISIS, and with what success, is not clear, since a certain amount of cooperation is required for Fire Eye to get its data, and that’s not likely to be forthcoming from the so-called Islamic State.The women usually asked their targets whether they were using a smart-phone or computer before launching a tailored malware based on the remote-access software called Dark Comet.Researcher Nart Villeneuve says Fire Eye is unable to identify precisely who is behind the tailored attacks, but adds: “We know that they used social media to infiltrate victims’ machines and steal military information that would provide an advantage to President Assad’s forces on the battlefield.”The cyber threat company has focused its investigation on a series of attacks mounted between November 2013 and January 2014.Dr Jamie Saunders, the director of cyber crime at the UK's national police agency, said the majority of internet hacks were carried out by Russian-speakers either inside Russia or elswhere in the former Soviet bloc.An increaingly aggressive Kremlin with ex-KGB strongman Vladimimr Putin at the helm was likely behind some of the attacks, he suggested.

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