Cybersecurity authorities from the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. recently released a joint Cybersecurity Advisory warning of increased cyber threats related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As per the alert, attacks may occur as a response to the economic costs imposed on Russia as well as material support to Ukraine provided by the United States and U.S. allies and partners.

Given this rising threat, along with other factors, are we facing a perfect storm when it comes to cyberattacks?

Malicious Activity Coming from Russia

Evolving intelligence indicates the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks, the alert states. This message follows a recent White House statement warning about attacks coming from Russia that could impact the United States.

Russian state-sponsored cyber operations have included distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and malware against the Ukrainian government and critical infrastructure entities. Other reports have pinned data wiper malware on Russian-based threat actors attacking Ukrainian government contractors and financial groups.

The alert also notes that cyber crime groups have publicly pledged support for the Russian government. Russian-aligned cyber gangs have threatened to unleash attacks in reprisal for “perceived cyber offensives against the Russian government or the Russian people,” as per the advisory.

Perfect Storm Brewing?

Cyber incidents have been surging worldwide. In 2021, ransomware attacks increased by 1,885% against governments worldwide. On top of that, the health care industry faced a 755% increase last year. Given the warning associated with Russia-based threats, could we be on the verge of a perfect storm of cyber incidents? Some other indicators also point towards this possibility.

For example, Malware-as-a-Service has put powerful attack tools in the hands of nearly anyone seeking to inflict damage or demand ransom. Being a cyber criminal has never been cheaper. You can purchase ransomware for as little as $66, or hire a threat actor for $250. You can even get a phishing kit for free on underground forums. As attack kits and services become easier to obtain, a significant rise in incidents could be on the horizon.

Attack Mitigation Strategies

The CISA alert provides guidelines about how to prepare for a potential wave of cyberattacks. Some of these include:

  • Create, maintain and exercise a cyber incident response and continuity of operations plan
  • Maintain offline (i.e., physically separate) backups of data
  • Implement identity and access management solutions, including restricting where accounts and credentials can be used and using local device credential protection features
  • Use network monitoring tools and host-based logs and monitoring tools, such as an endpoint detection and response tool. This can help identify, detect and investigate activity that may indicate lateral movement by a threat actor or malware.
  • Use an antivirus program that uses heuristics and reputation ratings to check a file’s prevalence and digital signature prior to opening it.

The cybersecurity authorities urge critical infrastructure network security teams to prepare for and mitigate potential cyber threats, such as destructive malware, ransomware, DDoS attacks and cyber espionage. Security officers are called to harden cyber defenses and perform due diligence in identifying indicators of malicious activity.

More from News

HHS Releases Hospital Cyber Resiliency Landscape Analysis

4 min read - On April 17, 2023, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 405(d) Program announced the release of its Hospital Cyber Resiliency Initiative Landscape Analysis. This landmark analysis reports on domestic hospitals’ current state of cybersecurity preparedness. The scope of the HHS study was limited to activities that protect access to patient care and safety and reduce the negative impact of cyber threats on clinical operations. Breaches of sensitive data were considered only if the breach had a direct…

4 min read

Zombie APIs are a Top Security Concern as API Attacks Surge 400%

4 min read - Organizations of all sizes rely on application programming interfaces (APIs). The API explosion has been driven by several factors, including cloud computing, demand for mobile/web applications, microservices architecture and the API economy as a business model. APIs enable developers to access data remotely, integrate with other services, build modular applications and monetize their data/services. For enterprises that participated in a recent research study, the average number of APIs per organization was 15,564. Large enterprises (over 10,000 employees) had an average…

4 min read

Google’s Bug Bounty Hits $12 Million: What About the Risks?

4 min read - Bug bounty numbers have never been better. In 2022, Google rewarded the efforts of over 700 researchers from 68 different countries who helped improve the security of the company’s products and services. The total amount of awards grew from $8.7 million paid in 2021 to $12 million in 2022, a nearly 38% increase. Over the past few years, bug bounty programs have gained significant traction. Companies have been lured in by the potential to identify vulnerabilities quickly, enhance product security…

4 min read

Swiss Army Knife Malware Slices Through Systems In so Many Ways

4 min read - What if one single malware strain could cut through any security that tried to stop it? In a new study of more than 550,000 live malware strains, the Picus Red Report 2023 has unveiled a trove of over 5 million malicious activities. In the report, researchers identified the top tactics utilized by cyber criminals in 2022. Picus' findings also highlighted the growing prevalence of "Swiss Army knife malware". This type of malicious software is capable of executing a range of…

4 min read