As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues to escalate, so does its diplomatic conflict with the United States. A recent alert was released by Five Eyes intelligence alliance – consisting of the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States – warning of potential cyber-attacks on a number of critical organizations. Government administration and senior U.S. officials have repeatedly warned U.S. citizens and businesses about the potential for Russia to engage in malicious cyber activity against the United States to intensify the ongoing crisis further.
During a recent interview on “60 Minutes” on CBS, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco from the Department of Justice explained that “We are seeing Russian state actors scanning, probing, looking for opportunities, looking for weaknesses in our systems on critical infrastructure, on businesses.” She then added, “Think of it as a burglar going around trying to jiggle the lock in your house door to see if it’s open, and we’re seeing that.”
In the same interview, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director Jen Easterly said, “I think we are dealing with a very dangerous, very sophisticated, very well-resourced cyber-actor. And that’s why we’ve been telling everybody consistently, shields up. What does that mean? It means assume there will be disruptive cyber activity and make sure you are prepared for it.”
In response to the increased risk of Russian cyber-attacks, U.S. officials are urging companies to take a number of immediate actions to prepare.
- Mandate the use of multi-factor authentication on your systems to make it harder for attackers to gain access to your system and network.
- Deploy modern security tools on all your computers and devices to continue to look for and mitigate threats.
- Check with cybersecurity professionals to ensure that your systems are protected against all known vulnerabilities.
- Change passwords across all networks.
- Back up your data and ensure that you have offline backups beyond the reach of cyber-attackers.
- Train your employees on cyber-awareness. This may include educating your team on common tactics that attackers use over email or through certain websites. Encourage them to always report unusual behavior on their phones or computers – such as crashes or slow operations.
- Run exercises and have emergency plans in place so that you are always prepared to respond quickly and efficiently to minimize harmful impacts.
- Secure and monitor potentially risky services such as remote desktop protocols.
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