Russian computer-security expert Eugene Kaspersky said here Wednesday that his dire predictions about cyber crime have regrettably come true and warned that cyber terrorism is the next big Internet-based threat facing the international community.

Kaspersky said the latest cases of highly sophisticated cyber attacks, including the recent theft of nearly $1 billion from around 100 banks by a group he has dubbed Carbanak, show that cyber terrorism is feasible if the will to wage it exists.

“I fear that cyber terrorism is the next big threat on the Internet,” the CEO of Moscow-based global IT security company Kaspersky Lab, who began warning of serious Web-based threats in the

mid-1990s, told Efe in an interview.

“Unfortunately my dire predictions about cybersecurity have become a reality,” he said during the 2015 Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit, which was held Monday and Tuesday in this southeastern Mexican resort city.

Any terrorist group could wage cyber terrorism by hiring cyber criminals with the expertise demonstrated by Carbanak, Kaspersky said.

Although there is much disagreement about what constitutes cyber terrorism, the FBI defines it as a “premeditated, politically motivated attack against information, computer systems, computer programs and data which results in violence against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents.”

Kaspersky said cyber gangs appear to have a hierarchical structure with a few leaders in the highest rank, a lower rung of cyber officials and a lowest level made up of probably hundreds of “cyber soldiers” in each of the respective countries to be targeted in an attack.

That means thousands of people can be involved at all levels of a cyber-attack operation, he estimated.

Some cyber criminals are programmers, while others manipulate banks’ computer systems, carry out cyberespionage aimed at persuading bank employees to open infected e-mail messages, empty ATM machines to which the gang had gained remote access, or launder stolen money, investigations have shown.

It is impossible to calculate how many major cyber crime figures are currently on the Internet given the secrecy with which they operate.

But tens of thousands of low- or mid-level cyber criminals who continually make “noise” online are known to exist, the expert said.

Kaspersky called for special national legal protections for infrastructure of particular economic or national security importance.

He also said international cybersecurity regulation is needed because “countries’ computer systems and networks are the same,” and called for accords to ensure global security coordination in response to probable cyber terrorist attacks. EFE