What the Russian Invasion of Ukraine Means for Your Cybersecurity

Ransomware, Russian invasion
Ransomware, Russian invasion

Throughout the Russian invasion of Ukraine, cybersecurity experts have warned about the possibility that Western businesses are about to end up in the crosshairs of cyberwarfare. Should you be worried? The answer is: yes.

With multiple sanctions from the United States and NATO, Russian entities are preparing to see a rapid insurgence of ransomware attacks throughout most industries, and with more aggression and sophistication than ever before. Likewise, there has been compelling evidence linking Russian hackers to a series of cyberattacks in Ukraine. However, cyberattacks between these countries have been going on for years – far from a new situation.

Going back to 2015, shortly after Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula, suspected Russian hackers were able to shut off electrical power for 230,000 people across western Ukraine. The group was able to complete a second cyberattack the following year, along with a bigger list of targets including government agencies and financial institutions. Currently, over 400,000 people have volunteered to help the Ukrainian government in hacking the Russian government and military operations. Most of the likely targets are Russian and Ukrainian agencies, nuclear power plants, banks and Russian-affiliated companies.

With all of this digital commotion there’s little chance that cyberattacks will only remain within their respective countries. Even if the conflict seems distant from other countries, all governments and organizations should observe this unfolding situation, because cyberwars are known to quickly spread across borders.

Potentially a rapid increase in cyberattacks domestically and internationally

Small businesses will be especially vulnerable to the expected surge of ransomware attacks in the coming months. Many cybersecurity professionals are encouraging them to immediately act on increasing their cybersecurity infrastructure. A unique tactic that recently developed is the ability of ransomware attackers to potentially “double-dip” their targets. By decrypting a small portion of the compromised assets shortly after receiving their first ransom payment, threat actors can demand a second payment.

Besides the staggering increase in ransomware, organizations securing vast amounts of digital information must pay particular close attention to ensuing their critical infrastructure is protected, monitored, and be responsive to minimizing damage during cyberattacks.

“The risk of ransomware attacks has only increased with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Aimei Wei, founder and chief technology officer of Stellar Cyber. “Immediately after the conflict broke out, suspected Russian-sourced cyberattacks were observed over a 48-hour period at an increase of over 800%,” she said.

A few hours before Russian troops invaded, Ukraine was attacked by a new type of malware specifically designed to completely wipe data – something the Ukrainian government said was on a whole different level than previous threats. There were a few Ukrainian government agencies targeted with the malware, which deleted data stored on infected computers. This new “wiper” malware has already shown to be highly destructive, and officials said they are on alert for it crossing borders into other countries.

As a precautionary measure, U.S. cybersecurity agencies, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security have all been on high alert to cover any potential threats in the near future.

What can you do to protect yourself?

When reviewing the overall strength of your infrastructure, it is easy to overlook some of the hidden gaps in security. Many do not realize how unprepared they are for a cyberattack until it is too late. A serious cyberattack can be just as destructive as a natural disaster, by permanently harming critical infrastructure and creating a cascading effect of damage for many months. It is worth the time to get a cybersecurity assessment of your organization to quickly focus on the weak areas and effectively minimize the risk if (or when) the worst happens.

It is impossible to tell when an attack is going to emerge, but with a long history of international attacks, all of us should be prepared for incoming:

  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
  • Malware & Ransomware
  • DDoS & Network attacks
  • Zero Day & Code flaw vulnerabilities
  • Privilege escalation
  • Data & network anomalies

The best approach is to have a comprehensive security system that leverages an array of protection features, recovery, and assurance methodologies in the overall plan. Your team must keep watch on critical data 24/7 with no exceptions or room for error. While it may seem impossible to manage this level of security with a single team – without it your assets are vulnerable.

Contact Securicon to schedule an assessment today

No matter what becomes of the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict, state-sponsored cyberattacks will be on the rise, and your organization should be prepared for the upcoming months ahead.

Securicon can help you with a number of vulnerability assessments and compliance services. Contact us today for a free consultation.