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What steps should private companies take in preparation for potential Russian cyber retaliation?

By: Colin Murray, ITMG Insider Threat Analyst

Russia has invaded Ukraine under the direction of Vladimir Putin. We have all seen the news regarding this terrible action. In response, many countries and private companies around the world have done their best to impose economic sanctions on Russia to try and dissuade them from continuing the invasion. While his country and economy are being greatly impacted, Putin does not seem to have been given pause.

In 2020 American companies SolarWinds, FireEye and likely many more were infiltrated by Russian nation-state hackers. These attacks, while bad, appear to show that such hacks could only be worse in future. Based on Russia’s history of hacking it can be expected that there will be significant risk of attempted cyber retaliation in the coming months. As such, what are the risks facing insider threat teams and what can we do?

A major threat comes from phishing and credential harvesting. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said on February 16th that Russia has been conducting a two-year long campaign targeting U.S. defense contractors using phishing and credential harvesting techniques. Cybersecurity firm Avanan says that Russian based phishing attacks are eight times higher since only February 27th. The threat is here, and we all need to prepare.

The most important step is training. Everyone needs to be aware that they should be dubious of any emails or calls that they do not recognize. This is not something inherent for those outside of cyber security fields. Training is necessary to make all of those in a company aware of the risks. This training should be in the form of classes as well as exercises.

Training does not always work. It is likely that malicious actors will eventually find someone that clicks the link or provides the password. Therefore, CISA is recommending that we lower our risk thresholds for reporting. This will likely lead to an increase in workloads, but this is a unique time. A lower threshold may be the difference in catching a user that is behaving only slightly outside of their baseline behavior.

These are scary times, but it is now that community means the most. If you see attack vectors that have not been seen, share them with those that you know in the insider threat community and in the cybersecurity community.

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 18th, 2022 at 3:56 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.