We are privileged to be living in a time where technology and science can aid us, and make our lives much easier and more efficient. The technology we use on a day-to-day basis allows us to do things we never thought possible. Living in a computer age has so many advantages, but it also has constant looming invisible threats.
Underlying the current world events is an ongoing campaign of cyberattacks. The proportion of nation-backed attacks and criminal activity is debatable, but the onslaught is ongoing and growing in intensity. A week before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) sent out a cyber “Shields Up” warning. The warning was primarily directed toward the United States private sector and the deployment is partly based on Russia’s denial-of-service attack on Ukraine by its military. There is no denying the cyber threat is very real.
CISA's "Shields Up" warning reads: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could impact organizations both within and beyond the region, including malicious cyber activity against the U.S. homeland, including as a response to the unprecedented economic costs imposed on Russia by the U.S. and our allies and partners. Evolving intelligence indicates that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks. Every organization—large and small—must be prepared to respond to disruptive cyber incidents. As the nation’s cyber defense agency, CISA stands ready to help organizations prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the impact of cyberattacks. When cyber incidents are reported quickly, we can use this information to render assistance and as a warning to prevent other organizations and entities from falling victim to a similar attack.” (CISA)
The Russian currency (the ruble) has lost nearly 40 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar in the past month. Economic sanctions from most of the world's most powerful nations have been steadily taking their toll on the overall Russian economy. With this current instability within the country, cybercriminals within Russia would be desperate to poach money from foreign businesses and organizations. The Russian government has often turned a blind eye to cybercriminal organizations and individuals operating within Russia if they don't target Russian assets. The occurrence of cybercrime is always increasing, but real-world factors like these facilitate its growth exponentially.
Certainly, we are living through unprecedented times. No one has ever faced the variables we do in war now; where attacks can be carried out from anywhere in the world at lightning speeds. For Russians, cybercrime is a profitable business with billions of dollars in revenue, and just like any business, they are guided by expected returns and opportunity costs. In the face of these threats, cybersecurity is no longer an afterthought. Cybersecurity is necessary for survival, and it has never been more important than now, especially considering the escalating Russia-Ukraine conflict.