Russia Has Declared Cyber War On Your Business – What Will You Do?
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Immediately after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Russia massively increased its cyber attacks on our country. According to a recent article, over the span of 48 hours, suspected Russian-sourced cyber-attacks increased over 800%. U.S. cybersecurity agencies, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security have dramatically increased their alerts, covering significantly increased threat levels and the need for a much higher level of preparedness and response

This is both urgent and as critical as it can possibly get.

Cyberwarfare is one of the primary tools of modern military attacks today. We know that Russia had planned for this event well in advance so it could attack our country when Russia attacked Ukraine – and democracy. There is little doubt that this series of global events have been planned for some time. Historically speaking, nefarious state-sponsored cyber-activities are escalated when geopolitical tensions are high. And, they have not been this high since the Cold War.

I am taking the current situation very seriously – and so should you. As a former Cold Warrior myself, I believe that cyberweapons and the ever-presence of nuclear weapons make this an urgent and dangerous crisis.

Many large organizations have been successfully attacked recently. They have already been closed for weeks and have had losses in the millions of dollars. And, this is only the beginning. We do not fully know the form of attacks that will continue to emerge or those that may occur successfully.

We do know for sure, from a history of previous international attacks, we must have our eyes open and prepare for all of the subsequent efforts on a massive level; Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), malware, ransomware, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), and network attacks.

Actions To Take

You need to take immediate – and continuous action. There are three must-dos for every organization. First, patch internet-facing and critical business software. You must continuously patch all software and all new vulnerabilities that develop daily. Take no shortcuts because if you only patch against known attacks in the wild, you may get caught. If it’s on the internet anywhere, in any way, or handles your traffic, communications, or remote business operations – patch it.

Second, prepare for a successful ransomware attack and/or data destruction. Ransomware is bad enough, but many have become accustomed to the behavior of demanding a ransom. Those same methodologies and vulnerabilities can also destroy data by simply disposing of the decryption key or a simple rewrite. Recovering from attacks is much more than nullifying the threat – it means coming back from a disaster. Test your backups, validate your recovery plans, and practice your continuity plans as well. Take the path of scenario planning on every component of your systems.

Third, you must be prepared to respond quickly. This is a must. Have your response organized and finely tuned. Have you considered what might happen if all of your employees lost access to their email? Who will be your incident manager? Are all non-email contacts up to date? You must walk through and reinforce how information for teams, customers, and employees will be shared in the event of a crisis.

It’s time for you to lock down your network. It may seem inconvenient to run through every aspect of your network to ensure it remains secure – but it is a must today! The aforementioned are the basics. All U.S. companies face a present and imminent danger. However, given the level of continuous threats today, the basics will not be enough. Every organization, without exception, must act with extreme urgency to secure its information technology infrastructure.

We Must Work as a Community

We are at war, and only a community can win a war. Yet, as real as military, political, and economic threats are, cyber threats affect all of us today. All organizations, especially sensitive and critical industries, can expect heightened threats of the scale and variety never seen before. This is especially true as the sanctions start to take a massive toll on Russia. Even more certain, the smaller organizations and businesses will most certainly be a target as they are considered the soft underbelly of this war.

Manufacturing companies, financial institutions, critical infrastructure, and government contractors must be prepared for what is happening for the foreseeable future. However, this is not just about one country. There are other global adversaries out there right now who are executing their opportunistic attacks. We can expect that as financial sanctions increase, retaliatory tensions from all nation-state operations will also rise. There is much more to come and much more to fear for the unprepared.

Unprecedented Times Require Action

Make no mistake; we are living in unprecedented times. We have never faced warfare like we are today. Cyber attacks can be executed at lightning speed from anywhere in the world. And your business is the focus of these attacks. Take action now, regardless of how overwhelming it may feel.

To me, this feels like the first few months of COVID and my answer is the same – work together to weather this crisis by finding joint solutions. MACNY will be launching an effort like Keeping People Safe and Factories Running – our response to helping member companies fight COVID. This award-winning effort informed companies and our state and local governmental leaders on what actions needed to be taken to be safe and remain open. This group still exists and will form the core of our new effort surrounding cybersecurity. If you want to find out more and participate, please email Cindy Oehmigen at [email protected] or contact me at [email protected].

You should also register for the MACNY’s upcoming Cybersecurity Summit on April 22. This event will offer a keynote speaker and breakout sessions to help you prepare for what now confronts us. To learn more and to register, click here.

Together, we will learn what is needed to fight and win this cyberwar!