Since the beginning of the invasion in February, Russia has been attacking Ukraine with all it’s got. Besides conventional military techniques, Russia has also opened up a front of a less visible, hacking war.
What does this entail?
Cyberwar might include attempts to spread misinformation or cause a blow at critical infrastructures that may stop operating due to outages and digital system malfunctions.
So far, Russian hackers have taken down Ukrainian government sites and targeted banks with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. These threats overwhelm and slow down systems rendering the websites in question completely unavailable.
While the sites were recovered almost immediately, there’s no telling how much data has been stolen during the attack. Or even whether the attack left the system with flaws that could be exploited later.
Also, a new type of malware known as wiper malware has been introduced by Russian hackers.
The notorious virus infects devices and deletes (wipes off) the information stored on computers, laptops, or mobile phones. It has been used to delete data from both banking and government systems in Ukraine.
Although physical attacks have been accompanied by hacking, this cyber war hasn’t reached its full extent. On the cyber front, this would mean complete destruction of systems for both sides.
The worst-case scenario could also mean that the attacks targeted at Ukraine would spread globally. Malware that spreads when hackers can’t control the perimeter can devastate other countries as well.
For example, one of the most damaging cybercrimes unleashed by Russian hackers, the 2017 NotPetya attack, targeted Ukraine and spread globally — even circling back to Russia.
So, how is Ukraine holding up in cyberwar?
A group of Ukrainian hackers dubbed “IT army” are currently protecting key Ukrainian infrastructure from attacks.
This collective has been preparing for cyberattacks on a major scale ever since the first Russian attacks back in January that targeted the Education Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
What about India? Is India prepared for similar threats and ready to protect its vital infrastructures in case of cyberwar?
Indian Businesses Might Be Vulnerable to Attacks
Indian companies have invested a lot in cybersecurity during the first year of the pandemic.
That’s because companies became more vulnerable when they had to adjust for remote work.
To keep their businesses running, many organizations adapted and created cloud-based systems or online networks that their employees could connect to for their homes.
New solutions that helped companies keep their heads above water also came with a major hacking issue. Cyber attacks reached an all-time high amid the pandemic crisis.
Today, organizations are protected with various cybersecurity tools more than ever. The booming cybersecurity industry is gaining billions in revenue in the process.
For example, to protect their weakest points, employees’ endpoint devices, EDR Security has been essential for protecting both business networks and employees that are connected with their devices from homes.
Underperforming cybersecurity tools means businesses might be exposed to major vulnerabilities and face data leaks. With all the personal data that the companies possess, foreign hackers can gain a significant advantage.
Whether India will be protected from cyberattacks also depends on whether cybersecurity firms will cut ties with India.
Major cybersecurity companies such as Avast have already announced that they’re cutting ties with Russia and not operating in Belarus because of its support to the aggressor.
In case India breaks its silence and sides with Russia, it’s possible that it too will lose access to some of the major cybersecurity tools that individuals and companies have used so far for protection.
Indian Warfare Unit
Even though India suffered from cyberattacks amid the pandemic, it has been more prepared compared to other UN countries and indexed among the top ten UN countries for its commitment to improving cybersecurity measures.
India also issued a Cybersecurity strategy that governs how entities should protect their data.
The Defense Cyber Agency (DCA) is responsible for the security of military networks in India and has been established to tackle cybersecurity threats. It has the ability to hack into encrypted networks and recover data that has been lost from drives.
While there is no guarantee that a cyberwar will spread in India, it’s always best to think like a cybersecurity expert.
Employ zero trust and always be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Therefore, it’s important to protect critical Indian infrastructure in advance — including banks and telecom networks.
Another key thing is to work on the protection of the wiper malware in case it finds its way into Indian servers. While India might not be a victim of a direct attack, it can always suffer from collateral damage.