Why the Russo-Ukrainian Conflict is Increasing Risk of Cybercrime

21 Apr 2022

Why the Russo-Ukrainian Conflict is Increasing Risk of Cybercrime

On February 24th 2022, Russian forces launched a wide ranging attack on Ukraine. Globally, news outlets and journalists have documented the events of the war and shared videos of the Russian army preparing themselves for battle, showing their strength for physical combat. Whilst these images have been seen globally, what has been left unseen is Russia’s cyber strength and the country’s preparation for cyber-attacks on not just Ukraine, but also on the western world, specifically targeting communications infrastructure, energy and finance. The Russo-Ukrainian war has signalled a new age of cyber warfare that is possibly only its infancy. In this war, there is both a front line and online front. In short, the Russo-Ukrainian conflict continues to illustrate to us how cyberattacks can often be events driven and a direct reflection of a crisis situation.

In a thought leadership piece, Harvard Business Review shared insight detailing that Ukraine has provided Russia with a cyber weapon proving ground. Accounts of early cyber skirmishing have already been recorded, with both Ukrainian banks and government systems being attacked since the outset of war. Cyber attack comes in many forms, with phishing attacks via emails and SMS attacks via both personal and business devices being some of the most common. When business focus is elsewhere – the current war and the pandemic being recent examples – cyber criminals are quick to capitalise on the opportunity to breach business networks.

It is only a matter of time before such cyber experiments spill across the border into other territories. It is a risk that the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently issued guidance on, stating that Russian cyberattacks could spill onto U.S. networks. Vigilant firms in the U.S. have already noted a sharp increase of cyber probing. The CISA is not alone with its warning, the European Central Bank (ECB) has also expressed concern and informed European financial institutions that they could be facing the risk of retaliatory Russian cyber-attacks as a consequence of geopolitical sanctions.

Globally, both countries and their politicians. Companies, and their business leaders are watching the next chapter of the Russo-Ukrainian war unfold. The conflict in Ukraine is presenting the western world with potentially the greatest cyber risk ever seen. Whilst it is difficult to prepare for some attacks, such as those on infrastructure, companies need to at least take the steps necessary to ensure their own policies and procedures are up to date. It is not a question of if, but rather when such attacks take place. Companies need to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to minimise the long term damage to their business.

For companies that are not prepared, the war has illustrated the inherent need and importance of a robust cybersecurity strategy. It has also demonstrated how geopolitical tensions and risks often go hand in hand with IT security. It is critical to recognise that moving forward, firms must ensure their overall business security is connected to their cybersecurity strategy. We are facing a new age of war with cyber threats that can bypass borders quicker than any physical combat can. Financial firms seeking to mitigate this risk must now be looking to knit together geopolitical risk, physical security and cybersecurity holistically, ensuring that they are all working together.

There are many implications of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.

Whether conventional or cyber, as the war continues, the threat of cyberattack will remain high and will be felt beyond the borders. With the world facing some of the most sophisticated threats ever seen, financial institutions and organisations should look to outsource their cybersecurity to specialist firms. RFA’s expertise provides clients with Managed cybersecurity and date solutions. The business has grown from strength to strength through our knowledge and understanding of cybersecurity is providing our clients with the peace of mind that they need to run their day-to-day business with the knowledge their data and systems are protected during these unprecedented times.

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