Cyberwarfare, Ukraine, Russia and What it Means for Ontario Businesses

Posted on February 25, 2022

Topics: Technology Trends, Network Security

Cyberwarfare, Ukraine, Russia and What it Means for Ontario Businesses

After progressively amassing its troops near the Ukrainian border since December last year, Russia on Thursday (February 24, 2022) officially launched an invasion of Ukraine that represents one of the largest conventional military attacks that has occurred in Europe since World War II. It’s generally regarded that Russia and Ukraine are now at war, and that means cyberwarfare is set to increase exponentially over the coming months. 

While the knock on economic impacts of the invasion might potentially have an impact on businesses in Ontario, Canada, there’s something else that they should potentially be concerned about - cybercrime

For the past few months, several government and private sources have reported cyber attacks targeting the Ukrainian Government and other private entities - with the Ukrainian Government attributing these attacks to Russian nation-state actors. 

The new situation follows Russian activity against Ukraine in 2014, when Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. This was also followed by cyber attacks, where Ukraine’s power grid was targeted and a separate malware attack (named NotPetya) resulted in financial losses for both the Ukrainian Government and private sector organizations.

So, how does this apply to businesses in Ontario? The NotPetya malware attack, which is believed to be the world’s worst ever cyberattack, caused significant damage to companies outside Ukraine who were caught in the middle of it.

While Ontario may seem like a long way away from the frontlines, it’s crucial that companies here are implementing proper cybersecurity strategies to protect themselves from potential external threats.

What exactly is cyberwarfare and what is the current state of play?

In its simplest definition, cyber warfare is the action by a nation-state or international organization to use cyber threats (such as computer viruses or denial-of-service attacks) to disrupt the activities and attempt to damage the computers and information networks of another nation for political or military purposes. 

There are wide ranging reports on Russia's use of cyber tools for geopolitical purposes, and there have been many historical instances where it’s believed that Russia have used cyberwarfare in a bid to achieve political interest.

In fact, the major cyberattack on SolarWinds in 2020, which penetrated thousands of organizations globally and led to a series of data breaches, is suspected to have been committed by a group backed by the Russian Government.

As of today, it’s believed that Russia is using cyberwarfare tactics to destabilize the Ukrainian Government. In fact, officials have long expected cyber attacks to precede and accompany any Russian military incursion.

Recently, Ukraine’s parliament and other government and banking websites were hit with a wave of distributed-denial-of-service attacks and unidentified attackers have also infected hundreds of computers in the country, as well as the neighbouring countries of Latvia and Lithuania, with destructive malware (abc News).

Earlier in the year, Microsoft observed a malware wiper campaign inside the networks of some Ukrainian organizations, which were designed specifically to make it impossible to recover affected hard drives. 

What does all this mean for Ontario-based businesses?

With Russia and Ukraine now at war, it’s believed that state-sponsored Russian cyber attackers will continue to pose a cyberthreat to the Western World as political tensions grow even further. 

Unfortunately, this means that businesses that aren’t prepared with a robust cybersecurity strategy could get caught in the crosshairs if they are to use infected software or unsecure networks. 

That’s why Canada’s spy agency is warning power companies, banks and other critical elements of Canada's infrastructure and economy to shore up their defences against Russia-based cyber threat activity (CBC News).

In a statement, the Communications Security Establishment said that “in light of Russia's ongoing, unjustified military offensive in Ukraine,” it “strongly encourages all Canadian organizations to take immediate action and bolster their online cyber defences.”

Thankfully, there are ways that business in Ontario can protect themselves from the threat of cyber attacks, such as ensuring good security hygiene among their employees, using antivirus software, emphasis on two-factor authentication, frequent password changes, network monitoring and analytics your network for vulnerabilities, consistently staying on top of software updates and using secure WiFi networks.

These are all ways your business will better protect itself from the threat of cyber attacks. 

How can OT Group help protect your business from cybercrime? 

Do you want to go one step further to ensure your business is fully protected from cyber attacks, mitigating all potential risks? Then OT Group is here to help. We work with small and medium-sized businesses in the Ottawa to Toronto corridor to ensure they have a complete cybersecurity strategy that protects their business. 

In addition, we’ve also partnered with Field Effect’s Covalence to offer an end-to-end cybersecurity software that offers small and medium-size businesses a cybersecurity solution that protects their business from cyber attacks. 

Covalence monitors a company’s cloud services, network and devices for vulnerabilities and malicious threats, strengthening how secure they are in regards to cyber attacks and cyber threats.

The software is developed by Field Effect, which stays on top of current nation-state activity by monitoring geopolitical events that could result in increased adversarial cyber activity. If your company is at risk of getting caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare, the use of Covalence will significantly mitigate the cybersecurity risks.

Interested in finding out more? Book a demo of Covalence today and find out how the software, combined with OT Group’s expert advice, can help your business minimize the chances of becoming a target of malicious cyber activity.

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