Governments around the world may be compelled to wall off their Internet systems as nations and companies move to protect sensitive data amid increasing cybercrime and espionage, Kaspersky Lab Chief Executive Officer Eugene Kaspersky said.

Such a move may slow the development of information technology projects and reduce the resources of global Internet companies such as Google Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Juniper Networks Inc., according to Kaspersky, head of Russia’s largest maker of antivirus software.

Cybercrime is increasing and secret documents released by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have heightened technology company concern about espionage. Some governments and corporations may even scrap information- technology systems in some cases, moving critical data back to paper, Kaspersky said.

“I’m afraid that this Snowden case will force governments, nations, to develop their own Internet segments for governments and for enterprises,” Kaspersky said Tuesdayin an interview in Brussels. “This is fragmentation of the Internet, and I’m afraid that it will damage the global network because the global Internet companies will have fewer resources, less investment.”

Companies including Apple Inc., Google and Microsoft Corp. this week called on the U.S. to lead government reform of surveillance practices after documents leaked by Snowden alleged the NSA gained access to private computer networks for spying purposes.

Security Checks

In Belgium, home to the European Union headquarters and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the country’s biggest phone operator, Belgacom SA, in September filed a complaint against an unknown third party after security checks revealed traces of a digital intrusion in its internal IT system.

Companies had begun to change their behavior before the Snowden revelations because of concerns about spying, according to Kaspersky.

“Big enterprises were even talking about back-to-paper scenarios because of espionage attacks,” Kaspersky said. “Snowden, it was just a visible addition to this awareness,” he said.

“Enterprises, governments — they are really serious about extra levels of security, extra regulation, disconnecting their services from the Internet, maybe even getting some processes back to paper,” Kaspersky said. “It’s a very visible step backward.”

Kaspersky Lab presented 2014 forecasts for cyber threats today. The company sees increased threats next year to mobile devices and to data stored in “clouds,” and more attacks on Bitcoin exchanges.

–Editors: Jones Hayden, Mark Beech