“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and a few minutes of cyber-incident to ruin it.” – Stephane Nappo
Few years ago, Vladimir Putin said that the countries that lead in technology using artificial intelligence will dominate the globe. It was the time when he was worried, but after Russia vs Ukraine, the world as a whole should be worried. Those apprehensions are turning into a reality as cyberattacks are increasing. After the invasion of Russia into Ukraine, Corporate executives are wondering whether cyberattacks from Russia are also about to start. Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice warned business leaders that it would be wise to tighten their security positions as tensions escalate between Russia and Ukraine. With this tension turning into total warfare, it’s a good time to think about how to stay safe from possible cyberattacks.
We all know that the United States and China are major players in technology right now, but Russia might reveal to be the newest player in coming times.
Three major factors that decide a technological leader are digital investments, efficient tax transfer systems and rapid business process innovation. A country in possession of these powers will be the world’s giant leader in terms of technology and will dominate the world.
Ariel Parnes, COO and cofounder of Mitiga said “Whenever there is a conflict related to Russia, you should expect to see force applied on the cyber domain as well because it creates disorientation, lack of trust, and fear”. He also warned that cyberattacks can be used to side track Ukraine’s allies from helping them, so all the countries have to keep that in mind if the conflict escalates.
What sort of attacks should businesses expect?
Scott Kanry, CEO at Axio, said that cyberattacks on American organisations are inevitable due to the conflict going on between Russia and Ukraine. Kanry quotes a very recent example of a cyberattack, ‘The Colonial Pipeline attack’ that created havoc in the USA. The Colonial Pipeline, an oil pipeline in the U.S, became the victim of a ransomware attack in May 2021. It caused the pipeline’s digital systems to shut down for several days.
The Colonial Pipeline was hacked by a group known as DarkSide. Although there is no link found with any nation, DarkSide is thought to be operating from Eastern Europe or Russia. The Russian government denied relations with DarkSide or the pipeline operator attack.
He also mentions that we are likely to see more such attacks like phishing, DDoS, activation of persistent malware in other important infrastructure sectors in near future. According to Kanry, when we are talking about cybersecurity we should not forget about organisations like schools, hospitals, and local banks. These institutions are critical for normal functioning of our society and contain very personal information of the public. Such organisations have very weak security and are most vulnerable to cyberattacks, so there is a need to tighten security systems at these places.
It is also possible that data from several organisations have already been stolen and the Russian Government is waiting for the right time to play their cards. Businesses have to be very alert to prevent any damages to their image and organisation. Such attacks may result in deletion of crucial data, DDoS attacks, extortion-ware and threats to sell data.
How can you prepare yourself for coming cyber threats
Ariel Parnes, COO and cofounder of Mitiga said “There is only so much you can do now to prevent a cyberattack in the immediate future, particularly if you are targeted by Russia or a state-sponsored attacker”. This statement might sound discouraging but you have to do the best you can to prevent yourself from cyberattacks. At Least you can minimize the amount of damage to your organisation. We have some tips that you can follow to improve cyber security of your organisation.
You should use an industry-standard framework like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to improve your cybersecurity. This will create a baseline for cyber security. After a baseline is created, you can then move on to meeting higher security standards.
Some basic things an organisation can follow for higher security include-
- Follow a strong password policy
- Systems should be routinely updated and patched
- Networks should be properly segmented
- Robust MFA should be implemented across all user and business applications
Saumitra Das, CTO and Founder of Blue Hexagon said, “Nation-state attackers usually can craft mutated attacks to render threat intelligence unhelpful, use living off the land techniques to bypass endpoint security and focus on disruption rather than ransoming data which can in many cases be easier to achieve”.
One of the crucial things a business can do is looking out for indications and signs of security compromise, i.e., Indicators Of Compromise (IOCs). Businesses should always be updated with the latest threat intelligence technologies. Although some attacks are mutated and might be avoided by threat intelligence, the use of AI-based detection tools can easily find out suspicious activities and typical IOCs too. Last but not the least you can do is to always be alert and keep trying to detect security gaps in your system, as practice makes a man perfect.
Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy best describes this technological era, by saying that, “This is a moment of choice and opportunity. It could be the best 10 years ahead of us that we have ever had in human history or one of the worst, because we have more power than we have ever had before”.
This wave of technology is very different from the previous waves that hit mankind. We all need to be very careful and wise in making our choices. We should be aware of the consequences of our mistakes.
Who do you think will succeed in this digital war?