I've spent decades dealing with Internet hackers (as I do now at my current firm), and I've learned to separate opportunistic attacks from targeted ones.

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There is a key difference among these kinds of hacking.

In the first two categories, the attacker is an opportunist.

You need prevention to defend against low-focus attacks and to make targeted attacks harder.

You need detection to spot the attackers who inevitably get through.

Or ethical: to punish an industry that the hacker abhors, like big oil or big pharma.

Or maybe the victim is just a company that hackers love to hate.

But even scarier are the high-skill, high-focus attacksĀ­ -- the type that hit Sony.

This includes sophisticated attacks seemingly run by national intelligence agencies, using such spying tools as Regin and Flame, which many in the IT world suspect were created by the U.

If you are, you're aware that this could happen to any company (though it is still amazing that Sony made it so easy).

To understand any given episode of hacking, you need to understand who your adversary is.

Against attackers who aren't sufficiently skilled, good security may protect you completely.