Five Cybersecurity Countermeasures to Employ in Times of War

Many of us are unwillingly forced to take part in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and while we can’t make an impact on the physical warfare, we should be proactive in defending our organizations from cyberattacks, and actively train our employees to do the same

Bad actors are well known for pursuing every opportunity, especially global events – as a vehicle to launch attacks, such as phishing emails, data breaches, and ransomware. More recently, we see a concerning spike in complex, malicious attacks originating from the conflict in Russia.

Outside of physical warfare, both Russia and Ukraine have been involved in a dedicated program of cyberwarfare. Participants in the conflict have launched cyberattacks on each other with entities supportive of Russia involved in data-wiping malware and taking websites offline with DoS attacks to prevent their use. Additionally, there have been malicious phishing-borne ransomware attacks and a range of other threats casting a sinister shadow that threatens every organization. These attacks are not always contained and often infect devices and websites that are not involved in the conflict. This includes corporate and personal devices as well. Employee social media accounts are also at risk of being hacked for the purpose of distributing false information or malware. With the Ukraine conflict surging, these attacks are expected to intensify with nearly everyone at risk of suffering the consequences of a sudden attack.

How to Spot a Conflict-Related Phishing Attack

If an email is received regarding the crisis that mentions interesting wartime footage or that points the reader to unknown websites where supposedly interesting content is hosted, there is a good chance it is a phishing email. If it requests assistance and it seems legitimate, make sure not to click on the link. Instead, google the organization and use the company’s legitimate website.

In such turbulent times, regard all emails that are Russia-Ukraine focused as suspicious and double-check the sender’s address. Beware of requests that ask for technical assistance such as running software or helping to take down websites. These might not only be illegal but may also be used to hack systems on the corporate network. Try to remember that during times of crisis, there is an increase in phishing attempts of all kinds as hackers take advantage of the situation. In this circumstance, employees need to stay updated from both a news and computing perspective.

To be proactive in the defense of computing environments, our security experts recommend:

  • Personal computer and phones: Install the latest operating system and security updates.
  • Implement 2FA/MFA: Use a phone number or authentication app as the second factor of authentication to all important applications, social media accounts (Facebook/Meta, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.), and personal email accounts. Backup email and ensure it is recoverable.
  • Change Passwords: If you are reusing a password in sites that hold your personal information, it is a good time to change your passwords.
  • Support a Culture of Security: Train your employees continuously, advise friends and family to do the same, and take an active role in creating a safer internet.
  • Defend Work from Home Environments: Install the operating system and security updates. If these are available you should see a notification on your computer or phone.

“In addition to the above actions, creating a culture of security throughout an organization is especially critical in situations where the volume of malicious cyber activity is at record levels,” said Mike Polatsekis the Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officerfor CybeReady. “This can be done through in-person or group training sessions or through cybersecurity training platforms that are now in widespread use to expedite and support a more security-aware employee base.”

Incorporate phishing training that includes behavioral adaptive simulation and deploy an automated solution that has been developed by experts in the email security space. Run an effective solution that does not interfere with other critical actions so that operations remain free of unnecessary problems. Additionally, provide employees with an empowering training experience which is possible with today’s more advanced training platforms.

Security executives are also advised to run an effective, automated security awareness program that requires little effort to manage and achieves fast results. This includes managing a people-centric program that adapts to one’s needs, driving a positive, engaging, security culture awareness program 24x7x365 and meets security awareness training compliance standards through focused training and testing. Finally, consider implementing regular security and compliance KPIs by preparing for cybersecurity training in ways that are easy, effective, and effortless. Schedule mandatory security training and reminders to all employees without haste and finally, track training completion by completing progress reports that provide multiple views of today’s corporate environment.

PRIYA JAMES is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Certified Ethical Hacker, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Author at GBHackers On Cyber Security

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