The global cyberarms race has become a reality as the US, Russia, France, Israel and China are now armed with cyberweapons to deal with politically motivated cyberattacks, according to a new McAfee report.

The report defines cyberwar for the first time, and identifies the countries that are developing cyberoffences and cyberdefences, analyses examples of politically-motivated cyberattacks and describes the impact on the private sector.

McAfee president and CEO Dave DeWalt said that McAfee began to warn of the global cyberarms race more than two years ago, but was only now seeing increasing evidence of it becoming real,

“Several nations around the world are actively engaged in cyberwar-like preparations and attacks. Today, the weapons are not nuclear, but virtual, and everyone must adapt to these threats,” he said.

‘The Virtual Criminology Report’ for 2010 identified a increase in politically motivated cyberattacks with targets including The White House, The Department of Homeland Security, the secret service and Department of Defense in the US alone.

According to McAfee, cyberweapons being developed by the nation-states can create not only cyberdefences but also cyberoffences aiming at government networks and critical infrastructures including power grids, transportation, telecommunication, finance and water supplies.

The report also identifies the internet, which is linked to critical infrastructure in many developed countries, as lacking proper security functions, making countries vulnerable to attacks that could cause substantial destruction.