The Russian flag is displayed on the laptop screen with a binary code overlay.
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As Russia intensifies its cyber attacks on Ukraine along with Fr. military invasiongovernments on both sides of the Atlantic are concerned that the situation could spill over into other countries, turning into a total cyber war.
Russia has been accused in a number cyberattacks targeting Ukraine’s government and banking system in recent weeks, although Moscow denies involvement.
On Thursday, cybersecurity firm ESET said it had discovered new malware targeting Ukrainian organizations. Such software aims to delete data from the systems to which it is directed.
The day before, the websites of several Ukrainian government agencies and banks were taken off the Internet as a result of a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), when hackers overloaded the website with traffic until it crashed.
It is reported that residents of Ukraine also received fake text messages stating that ATMs in the country are not working, which, according to cybersecurity experts, was probably a tactic of intimidation.
The onslaught of attacks has raised fears of a wider digital conflict as Western governments prepare for cyber threats from Russia – and consider how to respond to them.
Officials in both the US and the UK warn businesses to be aware of suspicious activity from Russia in their networks. Meanwhile, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kalas said on Thursday that European countries should “be aware of the cybersecurity situation in their countries”.
This was reported by NBC News On Thursday, President Joe Biden was presented with options for the U.S. to conduct cyber attacks on Russia to disrupt the Internet connection and cut off its electricity. However, a White House spokesman declined to comment, saying it was “wildly baseless.”
However, cybersecurity researchers say an online conflict between Russia and the West is indeed possible, although the severity of any such incident may be limited.
“I think it’s very possible, but I think it’s also important that we think about the reality of cyber warfare,” said CNBC’s John Haltqvist, vice president of intelligence for Mandiant.
“It’s easy to hear the term and compare it to a real war. But the reality is that most of the cyber attacks we’ve seen have been nonviolent and largely reversible.”
Toby Lewis, head of the threat analysis department at Darktrace, said the attacks so far have been mainly aimed at supporting Russia’s physical invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia seems to be looking for physical land and territory, not economic leverage for which a cyber campaign can be more effective,” he told CNBC.
However, Symantec researchers said that wiper malware detected in Ukraine has also affected Ukrainian government contractors in Latvia and Lithuania, hinting at a potential possibility. “spill“Russian cyber warfare tactics to other countries.
“This is likely to indicate the beginning of the side effects of this cyber conflict on global supply chains, and may have some impact on other Western countries that rely on the same contractors and service providers,” Lewis said.
Several European Union countries, including Lithuania, Croatia and Poland, are offering support to Ukraine by launching a rapid response cyber group.
“We have long theorized that cyberattacks will be part of the arsenal of any nation-state, and I think for the first time in human history, frankly, we are seeing that cyberattacks have become the weapon of the first strike,” said CEO Hitesh Shet. of Vectra AI, told CNBC “Squawk Box Asia” on Friday.
Shet suggested that Russia could launch retaliatory cyberattacks Western sanctions announced earlier this week.
“I fully expect that, given what we are seeing when Russia openly attacks Ukraine with cyberattacks, they will have hidden channels to attack institutions that are being deployed to curtail them in the financial community,” he said.
Governments and cybersecurity researchers have long accused Russia of carrying out cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining the economy and undermining democracy.
Now experts say Russia could launch more advanced forms of cyberattacks aimed at Ukraine and possibly other countries.
In 2017, a notorious malware known as NotPetya infected computers around the world. It was originally aimed at Ukrainian organizations, but soon spread around the world, affecting large corporations such as Mayersk, Runway and Merck. The attacks blamed Sandworm, the GRU’s hacking unit, and caused total damage of more than $ 10 billion.
“If they actually focus these activities against the West, it could have very real economic consequences,” Haltquist told CNBC.
“The other part that worries us is that they are striving for critical infrastructure.”
Haltquist said Russia has been digging into infrastructure in Western countries such as the United States, Britain and Germany for “a very long time” and has been repeatedly “caught in the act”.
“However, we didn’t see them pull the trigger,” Haltquist added. “We always thought they were preparing for unforeseen circumstances.”
“Now the question is, is this the unforeseen situation they’ve been preparing for? Is this the threshold they’ve been waiting for to start failing? We’re obviously concerned that it might be.”
Last year, Colonial Pipeline, the U.S. pipeline system, was attacked by ransomware programs that brought critical energy infrastructure offline. The Biden administration says it does not believe the Russian government was behind the attack, although DarkSide, the hacker group behind it, was believed to be based in Russia.