Cyberwarfare incidences jumped sharply in 2012, Akamai said, with the number of distributed denial of service attacks more than tripling from the previous year.
Akamai, one of the world's largest globally distributed networks, said its customers reported being targeted by 768 DDoS attacks last year, more than three times as many as in 2011. The company's State of the Internet report released Tuesday also found that more than a third of those attacks targeted the commerce sector, while another 20 percent targeted enterprise customers.
"In many ways, DDoS has become the weapon of choice for multiple types of attackers, from political activists to criminals, and potentially even nation-states," Akamai said.
Akamai noted that, at this point in time, it's only counting attacks that were serious enough to require human interaction to combat them. Lower-level attacks, which are mitigated automatically with little or no interaction from Akamai or its customers, are not included in the total.
China remained the largest culprit of cyberattacks, Akamai said. In the fourth quarter alone, 41 percent of observed attack traffic originated in that country, up from 33 percent in the third quarter. The share of attacks from the U.S. slid slightly to 10 percent in the fourth quarter from 13 percent in the third quarter.
"Looking at the full year, China has clearly had the most variability (and growth) across the top countries/regions, originating approximately 16 [percent] of observed attack traffic during the first half of 2012, doubling into the third quarter, and growing further in the fourth quarter," Akamai said.
The company noted it doesn't have enough insight to explain why the number of Chinese attacks soared so much.
Meanwhile, Akamai also found that nearly 700 million unique IP addresses connected to its network in the fourth quarter, up 2.4 percent sequentially.
It also discovered that the global average connection speed increased 5 percent sequentially to 2.9 Mbps, and the global average peak connection speed grew 4.6 percent to 16.6 Mbps. Year-over-year, the peak speed jumped 35 percent.
The increase came even as more people accessed the Web through mobile devices. Akamai noted that mobile data traffic doubled from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2012, and grew 28 percent between the third and fourth quarter of 2012.