Bracing for a Global Cyberwar: How to Protect Your Business

Bracing for a Global Cyberwar: How to Protect Your Business

By: TEAM International | September 5, 2022 | 14 min

We believe that all Ukrainians still remember waking up on February 24 with the news that tensions in Ukraine had escalated into war. Later, we would find out that a series of cyberattacks on essential Ukrainian services and state agencies predated the armed invasion.

Knowing this, US and European leaders expect cyber risks to increase and emphasize the growing importance of cybersecurity in business. While data breaches and hacks have become an uncomfortably common part of our reality, we’re currently witnessing unprecedented times when business cybersecurity solutions are paramount.

Admittedly, there’s no need to start panicking. However, it would be a wise decision for business owners to be extra cautious right now. So, let’s examine the current global situation in cyberspace, what to expect and prepare for, and how to mitigate cybersecurity risks at a time of heightened threat.

Quick background info on the Russia-Ukraine cyberwar frontline

The cyberattacks started before the tanks and armed troops crossed the border, with Ukrainian networks experiencing multiple targeted attacks.

Russian hacking groups coordinated a large-scale cyberattack on a satellite network with data wiping malware one hour before the invasion. The next wave of attacks followed the military onslaught and took down Ukrainian state service websites. Parallel attacks targeted the country’s critical infrastructure, restricting access to financial and energy services. Two days after the conflict had begun, US security departments discovered an 800 percent increase in cybercrime, threatening a global cyber war.

The global impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on cybersecurity

The UK government stated Russia was responsible for a cyberattack on a global communications company that affected internet users in central Europe. Furthermore, Russian-sponsored hackers performed DDoS attacks against some European military entities and used phishing methods against NATO.

So, the EU assigned a cyber response team to support the global struggle to prevent cyberwar and urged companies to undertake actions to reinforce business cybersecurity solutions. Meanwhile, New Zealand and Australian authorities have developed guidelines for organizations to prepare for any potential cyber disruption.

US officials are also concerned the situation may spill over globally, emphasizing the importance of cybersecurity in business and warning of heightened suspicious activity. The government has advised enterprises to enhance their digital infrastructure to alleviate any possible ramifications of cyberattacks.

Spillover effect: to be or not to be?

Russia is demonstrating one of the most aggressive and skilled global cyberwar capabilities ever seen. According to a report, 58 percent of all known nation-state-level hacking over the previous year was attributed to Russia.

We think the greatest cyber spillover from the Ukraine crisis might come from the accidental escalation of attacks. Take NotPetya, the most destructive ransomware attack unleashed against Ukraine in 2017 that rapidly spread globally and caused $10 billion in economic damage. The likelihood of a powerful cyberattack against Ukraine affecting systems globally is very high given that there’s so much shared infrastructure.

The current dynamic threat environment underlines the utmost importance of cybersecurity in business and a proactive approach to managing security. As the conflict continues, we shouldn’t exclude the probability of direct attacks on organizations from gray-market cyber criminals in Russia that could go rogue.

Why cybersecurity is important for business

Cybercriminal damages cost the world $6 trillion in total in 2021 and will go as high as $10.5 trillion in 2025. A lack of focus on cybersecurity can be potentially disastrous for your company, affecting your business continuity, bank balance, and reputation. Attacks have a direct economic cost, such as theft of sensitive data or intellectual property, disruption to the company’s operations, and legal penalties. Moreover, data breach leads to reputational damage, which is hard to estimate in monetary value. That’s why cybersecurity is important for business and should be at the forefront of your continuity plan.

Interestingly, even though major players make headlines when data breaches happen, small businesses are three times more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals.

Considering possible spillover or direct attacks, you should realize the extreme importance of cybersecurity in business. To respond to these elevated cyber risks, update your cybersecurity business model to maintain a strengthened security posture.

TEAM International recommendations on how to safeguard your business

Our vast experience in business cybersecurity solutions and data security analytics services allow us to share some working tips to help you reinforce your digital defense capabilities.

1. Get the basics right

The best way to remain vigilant at a time of heightened cyber threat is to ensure that the underlying cyber hygiene principles within your organization are functioning correctly. You can prevent data breaches and other security incidents by taking precautionary measures:

  • Make sure your software is up to date
  • Frequently back up your systems and critical data
  • Restrict access to sensitive information to only those employees who need it
  • Opt for certified antivirus, antispam, and malware detection software
  • Create and regularly change complex passwords
  • Perform continuous monitoring of your networks and infrastructure
  • Use encryption and multi-factor authentication for all business-critical apps

2. Evaluate third-party risks and vulnerabilities

Businesses should understand the risks associated with managed service providers and outside parties they are dealing with. Managing IT outsourcing risks is a crucial component of protecting corporate data and should be a continuous process.

Define precise network security requirements with your vendors and understand their access to your network and the data it stores. To do this, map your data flow and use modern risk analysis and assessment techniques to evaluate how outside parties protect data. Also, ensure the contractual agreements meet their security requirements and specify who has responsibilities such as detection and incident response.

3. Create an incident response plan

Design a disaster response strategy that will include roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders. Also, build a response team with a detailed workflow and a contact person you can reach offline in case of an incident. Ensure that your plan makes it clear who has the authority to make decisions, especially out of regular office hours.

To ensure the plan is reliable, and everyone knows what they’re supposed to do in a case of emergency, test it by running different scenarios. Also, choose communication channels that will work even if your business systems are unavailable.

4. Organize cybersecurity awareness training for your staff

The heightened importance of cybersecurity in business underlines that it isn’t only the responsibility of your IT department. Every employee has a role to play in augmenting business resilience. Your staff should understand the seriousness and impact of a malicious attack. To this end, we recommend training your workforce to build awareness of attacks they can expect and be able to identify suspicious behavior. Prepare your staff for things like phishing emails and encourage them to use protective measures such as strong passwords.

5. Enhance your cyber resilience by partnering with a reliable security provider

The current threat landscape has confirmed the critical importance of cybersecurity in business and the requirement for organizations to be agile and to adapt their security strategies rapidly.

To improve your cyber resilience, you should constantly reinforce your overall cyber protections and optimize security tools and processes in the face of adverse digital threats. However, managing resiliency demands human resources and broad expertise that is scarce in most organizations today.

We’ve noticed that lack of visibility on security posture is the main challenge for most companies. Due to this, organizations find it difficult to define what IT assets they need to protect and whether their security controls are sufficient. So, our extensive expertise in providing business cybersecurity solutions helps our partners introduce a comprehensive cyber resiliency strategy that addresses security at all levels. We know that information is the most sensitive and valuable asset for any company, so data security is at the core of our services and solutions.

Protecting your business amid cyber chaos

We expect the situation to be fluid, and cyber threats may evolve as the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues and evolves. So, every business leader should act promptly to secure its infrastructure, critical data, and core applications. Foremost, identify and fix the existing weaknesses in your systems since Russian hackers will be searching more vigorously for weak points. Then go all out on cyber resilience to become more agile in protecting your digital assets and preventing attacks.

Latest Industry Insights