What kind of an impact is the Russia-Ukraine conflict having on the average business that is far removed from geopolitics or any kind of strategic interest? Apparently a substantial one, judging by a survey from security firm Venafi. The majority of security decision makers from the United States, Europe and Australia say that attacks are up, they believe that nation-state attempts on their company are here to stay, and that they are already adjusting their cybersecurity approach to get in tune with this new reality.
Businesses see nation-state attacks as more common as conflict rages
The survey of over 1,000 security leaders from around the world found that 64% believe they have been targeted or impacted by a nation-state attack, and a similar majority say they have shifted their cybersecurity strategy due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 77% see this state of being caught in the middle of cyber-war as the “new normal” and 68% say that they have had conversations with senior board members about the threats emerging from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
But while awareness appears to be high, preparedness is lagging behind. 63% said that they doubt their ability to defend themselves against nation-state attacks. The survey did not get into specifics regarding what attacks businesses are facing from nation-states, but malware designed purely to destroy files and do damage has been deployed repeatedly in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Of course, Russia is not the only source of attacks; as the report notes, China continues to be very active with its espionage activities, and North Korea’s state-sponsored hackers have been tied to a high-profile string of thefts throughout 2022.
Given the general lack of diplomacy efforts in current conflicts around the world, 64% of survey respondents also say that they now see physical war as a leading concern.
Businesses make changes in response to Russia-Ukraine conflict
Nation-state attacks are a particular problem due to their sophistication. They are all the more dangerous now that workplaces have shifted to remote work models, creating numerous entry points that are poorly controlled by IT departments. The stock security measure provided to remote workers, the company VPN, can also be penetrated by well-funded nation-state hackers often using exploits that have not been seen in the wild before.
Some organizations may also overlook the threat of nation-state attacks due to a belief that they would never be a target of interest to these advanced hackers. But as the Russia-Ukraine conflict demonstrates, malware and ransomware can spread to unintended targets. Companies may also be targeted if they have any kind of link to a more valuable target, such as a larger company that they provide services for or a government agency. Nation-state attackers may see these smaller companies as the weak link in the chain from which to begin the process of privilege escalation.