The news of the unified response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine showed that nations allied against President Putin’s actions may not be waging war in the sky or on the ground but they have declared war on the country’s financial systems. “Attacking” their central bank, devaluing the ruble and pressuring the Russian economy. International avenues of commerce are being disconnected to isolate and apply economic pressure to try to regain the peace. Could a response be an orchestrated cyber crime campaign against American and Western business?
Security experts agree on the elevated risk to U.S. business. Putin had prepared for sanctions with a national reserve over $600 Billion but with the globalization of commerce and of global monetary systems intertwined technology enabled that reserve to be effectively frozen by the West.
The countermeasures fired in response to the invasion are broader and harsher than the dictator likely imagined. Backed into a corner what will he do and what does the past evidence suggest? No predictions here for how this invasion/war will play out but let’s call it likely that Putin is in it for the long haul or at least as long as he is in power. That means attempts to make the West suffer in retaliation become far more likely as he looks for battlefields to have success. What could that mean for everyday businesses here and abroad? Would you imagine cyber crime to be a weapon in that arsenal likely to be massed and deployed? We have to assume so.
That brings us to the threat to our businesses. You can bet your last ruble when Russian hackers attack they aren’t using old Soviet-era tech like we’ve seen with some ground vehicles breaking down in use. Russian technology in ransomware and other cyber threats is at the cutting edge so unless your level of defense is also state of the art your vulnerability is higher and the risk of severe damage to your business is elevated.
Thankfully the best Managed Security Providers do have tools today that are continuously evolving to meet and defeat the threats. Some larger companies with significant internal resources have outsourced cybersecurity to specialists because of the pace of development and deployment in both threats and defenses.
With almost every international conflict there is a root cause—money! It is inarguable that hacks against U.S. interests and private businesses have regularly been conducted by and originated in Russia. Whether that revenue stream has or will flow into Russia’s government directly or indirectly, or if it is organized or individual criminal enterprises; one supposes that a combination of all is more likely than not.
Given there is already a functioning cyber crime infrastructure in Russia is it plausible to assume that if other legitimate means of commerce become disconnected or devalued we could see the cyber crime sector redouble their efforts to grow their own economy? Might the government be part of that in some way to both capture then utilize cryptocurrency, earned or stolen?
We don’t need to try and predict the future of war or international economics but smart executives are preparing for the potential consequences and technology risks they pose. Top Managed Security Providers are working arduously to stay ahead of the threats and it’s a consuming task. If your business values its data, infrastructure and network security, now might be a good time to talk to an expert.