Uncertainty and growing fear over Russia’s invasion, as well as heightened market anxiety following the announcement from the United States, NATO nations, and allied countries of several economic sanctions on Russia, have impacted financial markets in the United States and other countries.
The Ukrainian crisis has escalated into a major conflict, and global companies, particularly those in sensitive and technology industries, may expect increased risks. Although the sanctions have a direct impact on Europe since it is a significant buyer of Russian energy exports, it would be naive to assume that Russia will not try to create a negative impact on other countries, particularly the United States.
The conflict with Russia and the introduction of broad sanctions will have a significant impact on the global technology industry, particularly smaller companies, which will almost surely be targeted as the war’s “weak spot.”
Despite the form of attack being unknown, cyber threats such as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), Malware, Ransomware, DDoS, Brute-force attacks, Zero-Day vulnerabilities, Code flaw vulnerabilities, Privilege escalation, Data anomalies, Network anomalies, and others have been warned about by cybersecurity agencies. Multiple Ukrainian governments and bank websites were claimed to have been damaged by a cyber-attack a week before the war began.
Over 48 hours following the invasion, suspected Russian-sourced cyber-attacks increased by over 800%. Last month, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning of the risk of Russian cyberattacks spilling over onto U.S. networks. The European Central Bank (ECB) also warned European financial institutions of the risk of Russian cyberattacks in the event of sanctions.
As cyber warfare has become an important instrument in the current global military arsenal, every enterprise, regardless of size, must move quickly to defend its information technology infrastructures. In his 2021 speech, President Biden warned that cyber-attacks might lead to a “real shooting war.”
The comments highlight the intensity of cyberattacks in the past few years, which have been connected to sources in China, Russia, Iran, and ISIS-affiliated groups. Cyber threats to nations and infrastructure are on the rise, and businesses are finding themselves on the front lines of this international conflict to not only guard themselves but also the country.
The cybersecurity threat is real
In 2017, the devastating ‘NotPetya’ cyber-attack, which was blamed on Russia, damaged sectors of Ukraine’s infrastructure and took down thousands of systems in many nations. The United States estimated total losses from the NotPetya hack to be north of $10 billion, with A.P. Moeller-Maersk, one of the world’s largest shipping corporations, losing roughly $300 million.
76 ports throughout the world were affected by the attack, including those in the Netherlands, Spain, and Los Angeles, and more than 4,000 servers, 45,000 personal computers, and 2,500 applications had to be immediately reinstalled.
In February 2022, there were 83 data breaches and cyber-attacks, accounting for 5,127,241 breached records, according to IT Governance UK. The department noticed a wave of security incidents in the closing days of February that were either directly or indirectly related to the Ukraine crisis. The discovery of “wiper” malware last week in Ukraine, which permanently deletes data on infected systems, has intensified a rush by businesses to strengthen their defences in case it spreads to other countries.
Microsoft‘s Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) also discovered offensive and destructive cyberattacks directed against Ukraine’s digital infrastructure several hours before the military attack began on February 24. In addition, the known criminal ransomware group, which was responsible for a major attack on Ireland’s healthcare system last year, claimed that it was offering the Russian government “full assistance” and would use its resources to “strike back at an enemy’s important infrastructures.”
The growth of Russian-based companies or companies with any kind of Russian connection that has a significant market share within the U.S. or Russian software firms that generate a major share revenue from products and services in the U.S., EMEA, and Asia, can also result in an increase in cyber threats.
Evan Koronewski, a Canadian columnist and political journalist, said, “Russia has significant cyber capabilities and a demonstrated history of using them irresponsibly.” As cyber warfare is intensifying, governments urged critical infrastructure groups such as financial institutions, pipelines, aviation, and electricity companies to prepare for the possibility of attacks from Russia.
With the motto “shields up,” the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency also warned of consequences for the nation’s vital infrastructure, asking U.S. corporations to strengthen their infrastructure security. Companies must strengthen their cybersecurity resilience by updating systems, enabling multifactor authentication, and backing up data, according to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the United Kingdom. The Canadian government is also providing cyber support to Ukraine including intelligence sharing, cyber security, and cyber operations.