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Cyber Attacks on Ukraine Signal Need for Heightened Security

Four Tips to Proactively Improve Your Security Posture

Is cyber warfare in your crisis management plan? If not, it’s time to revisit your incident response plans and get proactive with your security as tensions rise in Eastern Europe. 

Recently, several Ukrainian government and bank websites were offline as a result of a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Shortly following these attacks, a new “wiper” malware targeting Ukrainian organizations was discovered on hundreds of machines to erase data from targeted systems.  

Experts believe both security incidents were carried out by Russian cybercriminals or nation-state hackers, creating a new digital warfare environment that affects organizations worldwide.  

Now, on the heels of the Biden administration issuing new sanctions against Russian banks, the U.S. government is advising public and private organizations to heighten cybersecurity vigilance related to ransomware attacks carried out by the newly identified wiper malware. In fact, New York recently issued an “ultra high alert” as the state faces increased risk of nation-state sponsored cyber attacks.  

As cybercrime escalates and tensions mount, business leaders can take the following four steps to bolster security measures and remain better protected against potential risk: 

1. Evaluate Your Current Security Posture

Before implementing any new initiatives or overhauling existing measures, it’s important to evaluate the organization’s current security posture. This means taking a closer look at its attack surface, customer environments, vendor relationships, and other partnerships to understand an organization’s true exposure to malicious actors.  

Businesses that have proactively developed an incident response playbook are best prepared to evaluate their position, and large organizations likely have policies that cover geopolitical unrest. However, with the threats still unclear, even late adopters can allocate resources to strengthen their security posture in weeks or even days. 

2. Refer to CISA’s Shields Up Initiative  

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently launched Shields Up, a free resource that features new services, the latest threat research, recommendations for business leaders, as well as actions to protect critical assets.  

Whether an IT security professional, or a top C-suite leader, all roles within an organization should familiarize themselves with Shields Up and the actionable advice recommended by CISA.  

Such advice includes reducing the likelihood of a damaging cyber intrusion; taking steps to quickly detect a potential intrusion; ensuring that the organization is prepared to respond if an intrusion occurs; and maximizing the organization’s resilience to a destructive cyber incident. 

3. Prioritize Proactive Offensive Security Measures

Proactive cybersecurity testing is oftentimes an afterthought for business leaders when evaluating breach preparedness. In reality, enterprise security testing tools and penetration testing services that boost an organization’s cybersecurity posture from the onset should be a top priority, now more than ever before.  

While many tend to focus on the physical disruption nation-state attacks can cause, popular cybercriminal tactics like distributed denial-of-service and ransomware can be mitigated through proactive offensive security activities like Penetration Testing as a Service (PTaaS), red team, breach and attack simulation, or attack surface management. 

4. Understand that Security is Everyone’s Responsibility

The weakest link within any organization is its employees. Everyone working for, or with, the business should understand that security is everyone’s business – from the CEO to the seasonal intern, and even the third-party contractor.  

For this reason, organizations should implement frequent, hands-on security training, and regularly test the effectiveness of such training with simulated attacks to determine if more work needs to be done. After all, it only takes one accidental click on a malicious link to cripple an entire organization and its assets. 

During times of unrest, cybercrime skyrockets as individuals become distracted and increasingly vulnerable. It’s important to remain vigilant while the current attacks continue, even if an organization does not directly work with Ukraine or Russia.

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