You’ve likely examined cybersecurity attacks by foreign governments like North Korea, Russia, and Iran within the news. They’re unfortunately only too common. Potential attacks from countries like these are mentioned as nation-state threats.
But the threats don’t need to come from recognized countries. A nation-state may be a legitimate sovereign entity ruled by a government that will not necessarily be defined by borders. as an example, the Kurds occupy land within several nations and aren’t recognized by any government as an independent country; however, they’re considered a nation-state.
More important than the territory they occupy is that the harm that nation-states have done through spylike activities and techniques like spear-phishing, creating fake personas and bogus company profiles, or embedding themselves into an organization’s supply chain. They use stealth, subterfuge, and technology to wage cyberwar against countries and corporations.
Nation-States On The Cybersecurity Attack
Nation-state threats are associated with cybersecurity attacks on the infrastructure, military, and businesses. It is often difficult to spot the perpetrators because, naturally, they want to travel undetected and can always shift the blame to independent cyber gangs, foreign entities, or hacktivists.
The purpose behind the attacks can vary and might include:
• Military espionage.
• Influencing popular opinion through disinformation disseminated via social media.
• Manipulating government decision-making processes.
Evidence shows that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter were used for sowing confusion and discord among the American populace in 2016. These tactics succeeded in creating polarization, agitating voters, and misleading the general public. several equivalent issues plagued the 2020 election.
Nothing New Under the Sun
But despite the proliferation of stories reports in recent years about these sorts of attacks, nation-state cyber events are happening for years. The book The Cuckoo’s Egg includes an account of a nation-state attack in 1986. The 1990s and 2000s saw attacks with code names like Titan Rain, Moonlight Maze, and Red Store.
Stuxnet, which I ask because the beginning of Nation-State 2.0, occurred in 2010 and was a game-changer. It leveraged a highly sophisticated computer worm, created with multination-state cooperation to require out Iran’s nuclear weapons infrastructure.
But it’s not just governments and therefore the military that are in danger from nation-state threats. Businesses are also. They’re a growing target of attacks that will be increasingly difficult to spot or thwart.
Businesses in danger
Nation-state attacks are usually thought of as highly complex technology-based hacks. But, they will even be much more simple in design. Technology won’t even be involved. Social engineering may be a common method wont to breach business systems. Social engineering takes advantage of human vulnerabilities, convincing people within a corporation to click bogus links and download malware which invariably results in security breaches.
For example, simple email spear-phishing attacks are often employed by nation-states to infiltrate infrastructure assets. A legitimate-looking email is opened by an employee, and malware is planted. That malware can remain dormant until triggered by an outdoor agency or event, so it’d not be immediately discovered, making it even harder to protect against it.
The purpose behind these sorts of attacks can vary, but they’re generally designed to steal trade secrets, embarrass business leaders and tamper with, destroy or ransom data.
A few high-profile examples include:
• Sony Pictures was targeted in 2014 over the movie The Interview, which North Korea found offensive.
• The SolarWinds attack compromised federal agencies.
• The Microsoft Exchange zero-days attack compromised quite 100,000 mail servers.
Guarding Against Breaches
What is often done to protect against the usually changing and increasingly sophisticated methods employed by nation-states to breach the safety of your data? Unfortunately, there’s no single, solution fix; you want to take a multifaceted, multilayered approach to security. All organizations should update their cyber risk calculations and defenses. you’ll do that by these steps:
• confirm your risk modeling includes a nation-state threat actor scenario.
• Take all cybersecurity risks more seriously. Understand what legitimate executables and files should be running on your devices, and confirm you’re alerted when unusual file behavior occurs.
• Never underestimate the worth of vulnerability management and asset management systems. These are critical to understanding your current risk profile, where your business-critical systems and data reside, developing your business continuity and disaster recovery plans then far more.
• Educate employees to be hyper-aware of nation-state attacks and therefore the potential impacts to your business. you should not just have one training session, but they ought to be ongoing and include targeted communication, drills, and unannounced tests to measure people’s ability to spot and report on phishing attacks.
Nation-state attacks have changed; they’re more frequent, wider-spread, and cause much more damage. they’re not just limited to government transgressions. the large question is: What does one decide to do about it? It’s time to urge seriously. Start today.