Though cyberattacks have not been utilized heavily in the Ukrainian conflict to this point, the financial sector remains on high alert to the possibility.
CrowdStrike (CRWD), an American cybersecurity company dedicated to preventing and combating security breaches, is one of several informational security corporations increasing vigilance in anticipation of possible cyberattacks.
CEO George Kurtz discussed the prospect of cyber warfare in the conflict in Ukraine on a recent Yahoo Finance Live segment.
“People are looking for potential denial of service or other retaliatory intrusions that could disrupt the financial sector, markets, et cetera,” Kurtz said. “So everyone is on high alert. The government came out with a ‘shields up’ message.”
CrowdStrike has increased diligence with its customers, Kurtz said, and overall kept a close eye on events occurring outside the U.S. that could affect consumer safety.
Over-preparedness is a vital part of cybersecurity as a discipline, and experts have noted that cyber attacks are not likely to be a significant tactic in Russia’s strategy, as traditional, non-kinetic warfare is generally more poweful in geopolitical conflicts like the one in Ukraine.
“Digital attacks, while they can be very effective, they’re far less effective than the kinetic attacks,” Kurtz said. “So at the moment, it’s more impactful to be able to take out infrastructure with kinetic weapons than cyber. And that’s why we really haven’t seen too much in the country.”
If Russia did decide to wage cyberattacks, it wouldn’t be the first time it’s engaged in cyber warfare against Ukraine. The Kremlin has long employed cyber warfare as a tactic to discreetly wreck havoc on political foes.
In 2015, Russian government computer hackers delivered an attack on Ukrainian power grids and cut off heat and light for over 200,000 consumers. This was the first time in history that hackers actually triggered a blackout, according to Wired Magazine.
Since that time, Russia has deployed a multitude of both small-scale and powerful digital disruption attacks on Ukraine, including the release of fake Ukrainian electron results and the infamous 2017 NotPetya malware which penetrated websites of news organizations, financial institutions, ministries, and banks.
In November 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury levied sanctions against the Russian government research institution partially responsible for the development of the destructive Triton malware. In a press release, the Treasury labeled the Triton malware as the “most dangerous threat activity publicly known.”
“The Russian Government continues to engage in dangerous cyber activities aimed at the United States and our allies,” said then–Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the time. “This Administration will continue to aggressively defend the critical infrastructure of the United States from anyone attempting to disrupt it.”
Ihsaan Fanusie is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @IFanusie.
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