Businesses told to brace for Russian cyberattacks
The war in Ukraine has implications for Kiwi businesses as an increasingly alienated Russia could give cyber-crime syndicates more latitude to increase the frequency of their attacks.
The war in Ukraine has implications for local businesses in New Zealand as an increasingly alienated Russia could give cyber-crime syndicates based there more latitude to increase the frequency and intensity of their attacks, a cyber security expert warns.
Author of the book ‘She’ll Be Right (Not!) – a cybersecurity guide for Kiwi business owners, SMB cybersecurity expert Daniel Watson (pictured), said New Zealand’s addition to Russia’s ‘unfriendly list’ allows Russian crime syndicates to target Kiwis without fear of the authorities in that country.
“In 2017 a massive ransomware attack emanated out of Russia. They caused significant damage collateral damage, and that was before we were blacklisted.
“It is also a very real likelihood that we could suffer fallouts from attacks in other parts of the world. When a local company’s supplier or customer in the United States is attacked, for example, the malicious software replicates and infects the systems of anybody who interfaces with that party.”
Watson said there is a possibility that Russia will up the ante on state-sponsored attacks, where they might look to steal data, money, crypto and secrets.
“The United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is warning US companies to brace for what they call Putin’s ‘gangster diplomacy’. This makes us vulnerable because even if a company is not doing business overseas, they may have suppliers and customers who are.
“There are criminal companies in Russia that actually have employees who clock in and out of work every day, some not knowing that they work for a crime related organisation.”
He said some steps Kiwi businesses can take to protect themselves include:
1. Cyber security insurance
“Everybody insures their house, their car and their furniture, but far too few Kiwis are insuring their IT infrastructure and information. To qualify for cyber security insurance and get your claim paid out, you will need to satisfy the insurer that you have a wide variety of controls in your organisation.
“For example, it’s no good to have backups unless you have tested them. Other measures like two-factor authentication and staff training will be key to successful insurance cover, but you cannot afford to be without it.”
2. Put in place a tested disaster recovery plan
Watson said that no company could afford to be without a reliable backup and disaster recovery plan.
“You have to do a full test and restore fairly regularly to make sure that your system can be brought back up. It’s one thing to have a plan, another to make sure it works. The restoration could also end up taking two or three days which, for most organisations, would be unacceptable – hence the need to test.”
3. Update your systems
“Make sure that all your internet-facing and operating systems and software have been brought up to date and fully patched. Invariably it is the failure to update that gives cyber hackers an opening they can exploit.”
Watson said failing to minimise risk or transfer it will leave you with a reputation problem – like getting branded as foolish or irresponsible – when something goes wrong, and the likelihood is high that it will.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if suppliers and customers overseas start demanding more rigorous cybersecurity measures from their Kiwi partners in the near future,” he said.
For more information visit: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-watson-smb-cybersecurity-expert-07424b12/