Hackers in the Middle East are increasingly heading to Europe to learn new and sophisticated techniques in order to defeat the defences put in place by organisations, it has been claimed.
According to US-based intelligence provider Norse Labs, groups from the Middle East, including both politically and ideologically-motivated criminals, are working more closely with European-based groups to share tips, tactics and procedures for the best way to conduct attacks.
This cooperation is taking place at a very organised, high level. Norse Labs explained: "It's an established pattern of direct and continuous contact between Middle Eastern hackers travelling to Europe to obtain training and experience, then either staying or returning home to begin politically-motivated attacks on global targets."
Several case studies were highlighted by the group as examples of what this level of cooperation can achieve.
For example, it claimed that several members of Iran's notorious Ashiyane Digital Security Team (ADST) have been exchanging exploit and target data with the Romanian Security Team (RST) - the country's largest online hacker community.
It noted several SMTP systems known to have been compromised by RST were identified by Norse as being used in phishing campaigns perpetrated by ADST, as well as other malicious activity.
Elsewhere, earlier this year, police in Bulgaria confiscated computer systems, laptops, and external media that contained a wealth of specialised hacking tools that are believed to belong to a 21-year-old Syrian hacker, who had carried out ideologically-motivated cyber attacks on more than 3,500 websites, including both corporate and government sites.
"Based on current indications, we expect to see continuing increases in skill development and hacktivism from Middle Eastern hackers training in Europe," Norse Labs stated. It added that as their numbers, interests and skills grow, the dangers also increase.
It is likely that attacks will evolve from website defacement and Denial of Service activities to "truly worrisome cyber-terrorism activities" that will be capable of destroying infrastructure and putting lives at risk, the company continued.