Once a war has started, there is no predicting how it will end. The damage caused by the conflict is not limited to the geographic or political boundaries alone. Cyber-crisis rapidly spreads around the world and engulfs multiple organizations, intentionally or accidentally.
Cyber security threats have become another weapon to deploy in modern warfare. Unlike a disciplined army, however, cyber security consists of an organized as well as a large swath of unorganized cybercriminal gangs. Conflict creates uncertainty, and hackers exploit this fear and amplified vulnerability to target people and businesses.
Hackers have used distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, data-wiper malware, misinformation campaigns, among others, to steal or discredit individuals, government agencies, and businesses for ransom. Several governments have called on businesses to bolster cybersecurity defenses and to urgently adopt “an enhanced security posture” due to tensions in Ukraine and Russia.
The threat of such attacks increases during conflict situations. Here are the three ways you can improve your organizational readiness for cyberattacks:
1. Prepare People and Process for a Cyberattack
Assign a clear line of contact to report a suspected incident, with clear roles and responsibilities to escalate and resolve a cyber threat. Ensure that there is no gap in the availability of senior security specialists who can manage an unusual surge in attacks.
As weekends and holidays tend to be the time when hackers are most active, it is important that businesses plan to ensure continuous monitoring and response through better team management. Efficient and quick alert systems combined with an urgent response keep your business prepared against vulnerabilities that malicious cyber actors target.
2. Prepare a Crisis Resilience and Continuity of Operations plan
Businesses should prepare a continuity of operations and resilience plan in case the organization must go offline or if they lose access or control of their IT or Operational Technology (OT) environment. Ensure that the resilience plan is understood, tested, and ready to be acted upon.
Check for OT and IT network interdependencies and ensure the OT network operates at least at a minimum capacity even if IT is inaccessible. It is also important to regularly test if critical functions can be manually decoded and kept running even if OT networks need to be taken offline. Ensure backups are frequent and that they can be isolated to stop infecting the backups with malware. Discuss with the team to ensure an efficient recovery process following a cybersecurity incident.
3. Aim for the High Ground of Vigilance
A primary target for hackers is identity and access management systems. Ensure that authentication protocols such as multi-factor authentication, secure credentials, and others, are followed.
Keep up to date with the best practices for identity and access management, protective controls and architecture, and vulnerability and patch management. Use the principle of least privilege in managing access. Create separate non-critical accounts for inconsequential communication between all privileged users.
Furthermore, use predictive threat detection and response tools to detect abnormal activities and lateral movements by suspicious users or malware. Create strong spam filters and ensure colleagues and workers understand cybersecurity risks. Network segmentation also helps control the flow and access of malicious software to various subnetworks.
Future-proof your business
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) receives over 2,300 complaints about cybersecurity breaches a day, on average. According to the FBI’s report Internet Crime Report 2021, victims reported over $6.9 billion in losses in 2021, a 600% increase from $1.4 billion reported losses in 2017.
Phishing, non-payment or non-delivery, personal data breach, identity theft, extortion, confidence fraud or romance, tech support, investment, and real estate, are among the most frequently reported cybercrimes. Real estate or rental scams, for example, alone cost $35 million to victims. Conflicts increase such cybersecurity risks and hackers are constantly innovating to find new ways to gain illegal access to your account.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. It is also the price of enhanced cybersecurity.
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