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Most CISOs think theyve been attacked by way of a nation state

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Most organisations have made changes with their cyber strategies and policies following Russias invasion, and almost two-thirds suspect they are directly targeted or influenced by a nation-state cyber attack

Alex Scroxton


Published: 24 Aug 2022 15: 44

Nearly all businesses have changed up their cyber security strategies and policies as a primary reaction to Russias war on Ukraine, but simultaneously, similar numbers involve some reason to trust they may have already been on the receiving end either directly or indirectly of a cyber incident orchestrated by way of a nation-state actor.

In a welcome sign that government guidance to keep an eye on the prospect of the cyber dimension of the war on Ukraine to spill over is hitting home, new data gleaned by machine identity management specialist Venafi found security leaders are keenly alert to nation-state dynamics in cyber and how they’re changing in reaction to seismic geopolitical shifts.

Cyber war is here now. It doesnt appear to be the way some individuals could have imagined it could, but security professionals recognize that any business could be damaged by nation states. The truth is that geopolitics and kinetic warfare now must inform cyber security strategy, said Kevin Bocek, vice-president of security strategy and threat intelligence at Venafi.

Its study of over 1,000 decision-makers in Australia, Europe and the united states, conducted by pollsters Sapio Research in July, found 68% had had a conversation making use of their board or senior management concerning the ramifications of the war on Ukraine, and 66% had made some type of change with their security posture because of this, while 64% reckoned that they had recently been impacted.

The study also found 77% of decision-makers believed the planet was now in a perpetual state of cyber warfare, with 82% believing geopolitics and cyber are fundamentally linked. Numerous respondents (63%) also said they doubted they might ever know should they have been attacked by way of a nation-state actor.

Cyber war is here now [and] any business could be damaged by nation states. The truth is that geopolitics and kinetic warfare now must inform cyber security strategy
Kevin Bocek, Venafi

Weve known for a long time that state-backed APT [advanced persistent threat] groups are employing cyber crime to advance their nations wider political and economic goals, saidBocek. Many people are a target, and unlike a kinetic warfare attack, only it is possible to defend your organization against nation-state cyber attacks. There is absolutely no cyber-Iron Dome or cyber-Norad. Every CEO and board must recognise that cyber security is among the top three business risks for everybody, no matter industry.

Aligning with Venafis bread-and-butter interests in machine identities, the study also discovered that the usage of spoofed machine identities was growing in state-sponsored cyber attacks, because the digital certificates and cryptographic keys that serve as machine identities are vital for secure digital transactions.

The Russia-attributed HermeticWiper malware attack, which aimed to soften up Ukrainian targets immediately before the 24 February invasion, was one particular attack, using code signing to authenticate malware in a prime exemplory case of the scale and scope of nation-state attacks exploiting machine identities.

And such attacks aren’t just emanating from Russia Chinese APT groups are continuing campaigns of cyber espionage to advance Chinas political and economic goals, while North Korean groups such as for example Lazarus continue steadily to funnel the gains from landmark cryptocurrency heists back again to Pyongyang to invest in the ambitions of these paymasters.

Nation-state attacks are highly sophisticated, plus they often use techniques that havent been seen before. This makes them extremely difficult to guard against if protections arent set up before they happen, said Bocek.

Because machine identities are regularly used within the kill chain in nation-state attacks, every organisation must intensify their game. Exploiting machine identities is now the modus operandi for nation-state attackers.

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