The complex relationship between cyber risk and geopolitics

12 May 2023

The complex relationship between cyber risk and geopolitics

Just a few weeks ago, The Economist published a statement stating that ‘inter-state cyberwar remains one of the major risks facing the global economy’. In April, the Pentagon released a statement saying that top-secret U.S military documents had been posted on the dark web that shed light on information regarding the war in Ukraine and the U.S’s efforts to collaborate with allies.

Following on from the outbreak of war, the EU has also expressed intention to strengthen cyber capabilities and make Europe more resilient and reactive in the face of cyber attacks. Last month, the European Commission announced a proposal for the EU Cyber Solidarity Act. The legislation detailed a €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) plan acting to build a resilient Europe with the ‘introduction of national and cross-border security operation centers (SOCs) across the continent’. The newly introduced SOCs will help member states to detect and respond to any attacks and issue warnings in the event of any cyber related incident.

Last November, a Counter Ransomware Initiative took place in Washington DC. Following this event, Australia created an International Counter Ransomware Task Force, which united 37 countries joining together to fight the risks of cyber threats. This taskforce illustrates that nation-states are targeting the risks of cyberattacks head on and are doing everything they can to prevent their success.

However, geopolitical attacks represent only one part of the vulnerabilities that exist in the digital world. Some attacks are purely driven by financial motivation, as evidenced in the surge of ransomware in recent years. March 2023 broke the record for such attacks with 459 incidents being reported. The number of incidents reported an increase of 91% from February 2023 and 62% increase compared to March 2022. Not all cyberattacks however are driven by financial gain. In 2022, Microsoft, Samsung and Tesla were hacked by teenagers who wanted to showcase their technical skills (Forbes).

The chance of being targeted by a cyberattack is a reality for all businesses,  and they occur at the frequency of every 11 seconds (The Economist). It has become a necessity to accept cyber risk management as an operational business cost. The need for CEOs today to be focusing on their cyber risk management plans has never been greater.

Whilst geopolitical and company targeted attacks differ in their motivation, both nation-states and organisations operating in the financial world are highly prized targets, that should an attack happen and be successful, the aftermath would be detrimental and costly.

The key to a cybersecurity strategy is not only to minimise the chance of experiencing an attack, but to also have a mitigation strategy in place should one occur. At RFA, we not only work alongside our clients to design a bespoke cybersecurity strategy that is tailored to their specific business needs and infrastructure, we also work with clients on their mitigation strategy. This is a crucial part of our offering as the execution of the mitigation strategy can determine whether or how long a business takes to recover from such an attack. A mitigation strategy is designed to ensure a business is able to access their critical data and infrastructure so they can continue to maintain day-to-day operations in the event of an attack. Our cybersecurity solutions work to systematically track and analyse assets, identifying any potential vulnerabilities in order to neutralise them before a cyber criminal can act on them. If you would like to learn more about how RFA can help you develop your cybersecurity and mitigation strategy, contact us today.

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