How Geopolitical Tensions Impact Cyber Security

This blog is about the geopolitical impact on cyber security including the affects of the Colonial Pipeline Attack and how this will impact the industry in the future.

Geopolitics and Cyber Security Over Time

Geopolitics and cybersecurity have become inextricably linked since the creation of the modern internet and have only grown over time. Over the last few years, the cybersecurity industry has seen an immense upturn in state-sponsored attacks from countries such as Russia, China and North Korea against the West. These previously mentioned countries have invested millions into gaining some of the world’s most deadly and talented ‘hackers’. The government has allocated these attack vectors to attack their enemy’s critical infrastructure, democratic systems and government secrets.

Colonial Pipeline Attack

One of the most notable incidents in the last few years was the Colonial Pipeline attack in Texas. In May 2021, Darkside, a ransomware group based in Eastern Europe. Successfully executed a cyberattack against an American oil pipeline system originating from Houston, Texas. As a result, this halted the flow of gasoline and jet fuel to the Southeast region of the United States. Moments after the failure of the Colonial Pipeline, staff received a message stating that they would regain access to the pipeline if they were to send 75 Bitcoin (4.4 million USD) to an unlisted cryptocurrency wallet. Overseen by the FBI, the Colonial Pipeline paid this money to the address, giving them a tool to gain access to the pipeline again. Days later, the FBI managed to raid Darkside and recover 63.7% of the bitcoins, around 2.3 million USD. This indecency caused a massive upset in America and forced President Biden to sign Executive Order 14028. In turn, this increased the security standards for America’s critical infrastructure. Moreover, this attack severely enflamed tensions between the United States and Eastern Europe. This is partly due to the US believing that DarkSide was being funded by the Russian government. Throughout the 2020s, there has been an increased rise in APT groups (Advanced Persistent Threat groups). The countries of Russia, North Korea and Iran are the most famous for implementing this style of attack. These are stealthy threat actors typically funned by governments to constantly attack rival governments/countries targeting the Agriculture, Energy, Finance, Healthcare, Education, Manufacturing, Technology, Telecommunications, and Transportation sectors. APT groups such as OceanLotus, CharmingKitten and Dynamite Panda use advanced techniques such as state-of-the-art social engineering campaigns and Zero Day viruses to establish a foothold within the target network, which can be extorted later on and be utilised by the countries government. Millions of malware variations can make it challenging for companies to defend themselves from APT groups.

How Organisations Protect Themselves

One of the most common ways organisations protect themselves in 2023 is to use ‘Deep log analyses’ or ‘log correlation’. This will analyse the company’s logs and try to discover any unusual variations that can be analysed later. This service tends to be one of the fastest ways to detect a breach before the organisation is even aware of the disturbance. In conclusion, the relationship between politics and cybersecurity is becoming more complex each year. State-sponsored attacks are becoming more sophisticated, with countries such as Russia, China, and North Korea investing large amounts of money into cyber warfare. The recent Colonial Pipeline attack is just one example of the consequences of such attacks on critical infrastructure. APT groups constantly attack rival governments and industries, using advanced techniques such as social engineering and zero-day viruses to establish footholds in target networks. To combat these threats, companies are turning to deep log analysis and correlation to detect breaches before they cause significant damage. As the world becomes increasingly vigilant on technology, governments and industries must work together to develop more robust cybersecurity measures and prevent malicious actors from causing harm.  


Conclusion

Cybersecurity and politics are increasingly intertwined, with the potential for catastrophic consequences. Governments worldwide must work together to create more secure networks and prevent malicious actors from infiltrating critical infrastructure systems. Companies should invest in advanced technologies such as deep log analysis and correlation to detect intrusions before they cause significant damage. The recent Colonial Pipeline attack serves as an example of the real-world impact of such threats and is a reminder that vigilance on technology must be maintained to protect citizens. We can ensure a secure digital future for future generations with concerted effort and collaboration among governments, industries, and individuals.

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