As the Russian-Ukraine war reaches global cyberspace, everyone should be on high alert. State-sponsored hackers may attempt to steal sensitive information or sabotage critical systems to further their political agenda. While Ukraine is a primary target for these threats, many security experts believe that Russian-linked hackers will also set their sights on countries that have imposed heavy sanctions, like the United States. This means American organizations need to be prepared for a new wave of cyberthreats.
What are the biggest cyberthreats to watch out for?
It’s highly likely that US businesses will get caught in the crossfire in the cyberwarfare between Russia and Ukraine. Here are the major cyberthreats that can potentially affect US organizations:
1. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)
A DDoS attack is a type of cyberattack that floods a target website or server with traffic from multiple sources, causing it to crash and become unusable. In fact, Russian-linked hacking groups used DDoS to relentlessly attack Ukrainian government websites and critical institutions. While Ukraine fended off most of these attacks, there’s a possibility that Russian DDoS threats will start coming after Western nations that have imposed hefty sanctions over the conflict.
If Russian-linked hackers target unsecured networks today, they could potentially shut down critical infrastructure and further disrupt supply chains all over the US. Businesses who suffer a DDoS attack may also face catastrophic financial damages.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files or systems and prevents users from accessing them until they pay a ransom. In 2021, a Russian-linked hacking group purportedly used ransomware to shut down Colonial Pipeline, halting fuel transportation across the US East Coast. Considering the disruption and damage this ransomware attack caused, state-sponsored cybercriminals may leverage increasingly sophisticated ransomware variants to target vulnerable US businesses. Some modern-day ransomware are even designed to steal data when a system is locked down.
3. Phishing scams
The frequency of phishing scams often increases during times of heightened political tensions. In this case, hackers may develop phishing campaigns capitalizing on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Google, in particular, has discovered various phishing campaigns designed to steal login credentials by tricking users to go to a fake login web page. Experts also predict that donation-themed phishing scams that exploit people’s goodwill will become more common during the crisis. Hackers can use these scams to not only steal money directly from unwitting users, but also to install malicious software on their victims’ devices.
4. Remote code execution
Remote code execution is a type of attack that allows hackers to run malicious code on a vulnerable system. To initiate the attack, a hacker must gain unfettered access to a company's network. They typically do this by exploiting an unpatched vulnerability in a web application or operating system. From there, they can infect the network with malware or remain dormant in the system while stealing sensitive information. In fact, the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is warning US organizations of 95 new vulnerabilities that would enable widespread remote code execution attacks, as per our previous social media video posted on March 29th. If companies fail to install the latest security updates, they could be the next victim caught between the Russia-Ukraine cyberconflict.
5. Disinformation and cybervandalism
According to recent reports, Ukrainian security experts have found several bot farms using over 100,000 fake social media accounts to disseminate false information. The purpose of these bot farms is to sow discord and confusion among the public. While disinformation isn’t a direct cyberattack, it can still pose a risk to US businesses. Fake news stories targeting specific organizations can destroy reputations, diminish brand equity, and decrease profitability.
How can businesses protect themselves?
The best way to keep your business safe from these types of threats is to establish a comprehensive cybersecurity framework that includes the following components:
- Next-generation firewalls to detect and prevent malicious internet traffic from infiltrating your company network
- Endpoint security solutions to protect devices from malware infection
- Vulnerability assessments to identify and patch insecure systems
- Data backup solutions to keep critical data intact in the event of a cyberattack
- Security awareness training for employees to help them spot phishing emails and other social engineering attacks
Safeguarding your business from a slew of cyberthreats during the Russia-Ukraine crisis can be incredibly taxing, but you don’t have to do it alone. Healthy IT is a leading managed IT services provider that can protect your business with world-class security solutions and expertise. Call us today to mitigate cybersecurity risks.