On March 21, President Biden released a statement discussing the United States’ cybersecurity concerns over potential Russian cyberattacks. Russia began its invasion to claim Ukraine a month ago, setting the world on high alert for impending threats from Russia. Because the U.S. has aided Ukraine both monetarily and with weapons — in addition to levying significant sanctions on Russia — it has made itself a prime target for Russian cyber aggression.
In his statement, Biden said, “From Day One, my administration has worked to strengthen our national cyber defenses, mandating extensive cybersecurity measures for the federal government and those critical infrastructure sectors.” He went on to highlight the federal government’s push for heightened cybersecurity to protect United States critical infrastructure and the work they have done with private sectors to ensure that they are doing all that they can to protect themselves and, by extension, United States citizens.
TruU CEO Lucas Budman said, “Enterprises need to act and ensure all attack surfaces are covered. While network and endpoint protection are important, identity is the biggest laggard and the ripest for attack with approximately 80% of breaches linking back to it.”
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly told CBS News that, “We have to work together and assume that bad things will happen, assume there will be cyberattacks, assume there will be disruptive activity.” She also conveyed her concern that U.S. companies’ hypervigilance could lead to fatigue, especially given the unknown length of the Russian threat. A cyberattack against the U.S. — and, by extension, any North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) country — could be grounds for a strong, swift rebuttal.
At present, there are still no known and disclosed threats against U.S. interests. Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger said in a White House press briefing, “To be clear, there is no certainty there will be a cyber incident on critical infrastructure.”
What companies can do to prevent or mitigate a cyberattack
CISA provided an extensive list of tips and recommendations for defending against any incoming cyberattacks, such as:
Multifactor identification: This helps ensure that only the personnel that need access to an entity have that access. Multifactor ranges from various combinations of passwords, pin numbers, biometric identification and more.
Software updates/patches: This reduces the potential for an attack through a vulnerable point in a company’s software.
Observing for unusual network behavior: If there is unusual network activity, notify a supervisor immediately.
Crisis response team: In the event of a cyberattack, having a crisis response team will optimize the response time to it and present the opportunity to mitigate the damage of the attack more efficiently.
Test procedures: By testing what to do in the event of a cyberattack, it will reduce the amount of panic and allow the crisis response team to work as quickly as possible.
Given current geopolitical tensions, the potential for cyberattacks is rising for both public and private entities. It is important for companies to protect themselves from any incoming threats. While concerns about Russian cyberattacks have ushered in a new era of cybersecurity vigilance, the ever-evolving world of technology is reason enough for the U.S. to work to elevate cybersecurity protocols and defenses.