Cyberwar Vs. Cybercrime – How You Might Be Involved
Cyber-warfare trades guns and bombs for a set of devastating digital weapons.
Conventional warfare continues to make global headlines, while relentless cyberwars rage behind the scenes.
Nowhere is this more prevalent in 2022 than in Ukraine and Russia. Disinformation, supply chain disruptions, and widespread hacking highlight the vital role cyberwar has come to play.
Yet, as an innocent bystander, can you protect yourself in the case that cyberwar spills onto your business or digital assets?
The age of cyberwar
Cyberwar is a set of targeted attacks, but quite often it affects innocent people.
It’s essential to understand the role of cyberwar in 2022 and the difference between these attacks, compared to common cybercrime.
Cyberwar vs. cybercrime
Frequent internet users know of cybercrime by now. Through methods like hacking and social engineering, fraudsters launch criminal attacks on individuals and businesses.
Most of the time, these attacks intend to steal money or valuable data.
On the other hand, cyberwar stretches its scope over entire countries. The attacks often use the same methods, but the intent is usually political. Cyberwar attempts to cripple a country’s infrastructure and retaliation capabilities.
The common types of cyber-warfare attacks include:
● Disruptions to supply chains;
● Disabling power grids;
● Propaganda attacks, or the removal of disinformation;
● Spying on confidential data;
● Surprise attacks.
Cyber-warfare at the forefront of the war on Ukraine
Starting as early as January this year, Russia launched cyberattacks on Ukraine. The reports came over a month before any soldier stepped over the border on February 24.
Throughout this conflict, we’ve seen countless types of cyber-warfare attacks.
The 14th of January saw Russian hackers take down various Ukrainian government and banking websites. The Ukrainian government reported over 70 websites taken down, most being restored within hours.
On the 23rd of February, “Wiper” malware targeting Ukrainian enterprises was spotted, also showing up in Latvia and Lithuania. Reported the same day, airlines began to avoid flying over Ukrainian airspace, due to rumors of cyberattacks on air traffic control.
Two days later on the 25th, hacker collective Anonymous declared cyberwar against the Russian government.
On March 6th, the group backed up their claims by hacking several state-run Russian TV stations. They aired videos of residential areas being shelled by Russian troops, rather than the Kremlin’s propaganda, which is often featured on these channels.
In retaliation to Russia’s increasing cyberattacks, Ukrainians haven’t been helpless. Over 300,000 individuals have joined the “IT army of Ukraine”, a pro-Ukraine hacker collective. This guerilla group, like others, has taken the fight directly to Russia.
How to protect your digital assets if cyberwar affects you
Knowing the devastation cyberwar can bring, it’s essential to know how it can affect you, and what you can do about it.
When cyberwar spills over borders
The politically-charged attacks of cyberwar aren’t aimed at you.
Unfortunately, the damage likely has a ripple effect, potentially harming you or your business. Due to the targets of these attacks, there isn’t a lot you can do to avoid them.
Large-scale improvements to government computer and defense systems are up to the private sector.
Petitions and rallies can call for change, but ultimately, any major protective measures are up to those with power.
5 tips to protect you or your business from cyber-warfare
Regardless of the purpose, the collateral damage of cyberwar can splash onto you or your business.
So, how can you protect your digital assets from these unintended effects?
Practice good cyber hygiene
The simplest thing you can do for your protection is something you should already be doing. Still, not enough people are practicing good cyber hygiene.
These methods are easy to follow and essential for online business owners and individuals.
The most common cyber hygiene practices are as follows:
● Use strong, unique passwords for every account;
● Learn to avoid suspicious links and downloads;
● Become aware of social engineering tactics like phishing, etc.;
● Employ multi-factor authentication on your accounts.
Use a VPN while browsing the web
During cyberwar, espionage and governmental overwatch are rampant. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is your layer of privacy.
As seen in Russia, many lose access to social media or are forbidden from viewing particular information.
When you use a VPN, your browsing and location data are private to you. In times of cyberwar, this privacy means cybersafety and freedom.
Can’t decide what VPN to use?
Read about Surfshark vs ExpressVPN to find the perfect option for you.
Keep all personal and business software up-to-date
Old software is a huge cybersecurity risk. As software gets older, hackers learn of and share security holes and backdoors.
Software developers patch these hazards before they’re well known, protecting those who keep up-to-date.
However, if you choose to delay updating your software, you’re open to these attacks.
Take advantage of the increased security of software updates, and maintain the newest line of defense against hackers.
Make backups of everything
Due to the nature of cyberwar, you might not even have a chance to prevent it. Here’s where healthy back-ups are key.
The only thing worse than losing all of your digital assets is not having a backup, and losing them entirely.
Embrace secure, cloud-based backups of all of your business or personal data. In cyber-warfare, documents are often erased or held for ransom.
During a crisis, you’ll be glad you made backups while you could.
Install antivirus and malware detection software
If your computer didn’t already come equipped with antivirus software, waste no time and install one now.
Malware often lies dormant on your system long before it’s ever used. With one command, your computer could be the launching point for a cyberattack.
Fortunately, there are many cheap and convenient antivirus software options available.
Make sure it has strong malware protection too. A simple virus scan can be the difference between being hacked and staying safe.
Cyberwar is currently widespread, and the regularity of attacks makes it more common than traditional warfare.
You might wonder how this kind of warfare can even affect you, but the ripple effect of cyberwar concerns everybody.
Take steps to protect yourself or your business and avoid becoming another victim of cyberwar.