RUSSIA FIGHTS BACK
Following the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the West has imposed the harshest sanctions on Russia. The allies have also agreed to prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its £540 billion in ways that would undermine the financial and economic sanctions. The EU has cut out several Russian banks from the Swift international payment system in an effort to effectively block all Russian exports and imports. Should these sanctions continue, the once-powerful USSR will head down the ice chute, being unable to repay international debt, and remain in isolation accompanied by a sharp fall in the standard of living. But how will Russia retaliate? The truth is it already has, and not simply by blocking access to Facebook and Twitter.
A GLOBAL CYBER THREAT
For the United States, Russia is a mere annoyance on the military front. Europe, and to a lesser extent the UK, are at the mercy of the country as it is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the EU. But of much greater concern is the cyber threat the Russia poses. Given the crippling effects of the current sanctions, cybersecurity experts predict that a hostile Russia will pull out all stops by the conscription of cybercrime syndicates to generate revenue. Destructive malware will be deployed, similar to that used on Ukraine before the invasion, which could easily result in massive ransomware, financial malware and cryptocurrency theft. The Kremlin needs this to recoup some of the £25 billion wiped off its GDP as a result of the sanctions. But specialists also fear that Russia’s cyber aggression won’t stop there. Some say that the West could be facing a global cyber war.
A GLOBAL ECONOMIC THREAT
Russia holds a prime spot in the world of cybercrime and hacking. You only need to recall the ransomware attack on Kaseya by the Russian REvil group in July last year or the hacking of Colonial Pipeline by Darkside two month earlier. Russia also tolerates cybercrime providing that bad actors don’t target domestic entities or companies. Marcus Murray, the founder of Stockholm-based cybersecurity consultancy, Truesec, told Bloomberg:
“We fear that if they choose to integrate the Russian ransomware groups into such a strategy that it could potentially become a threat to the global economy. If Russia becomes a pariah-state like North Korea, then they might fully industrialize cybercrime to fund the regime.”
RUSSIA VERSUS NORTH KOREA
While North Korea unsuccessfully tried to steal $1.2 billion from global banks in 2021 and also failed in its hacking of Sony Pictures to prevent the release of the 2014 movie, The Interview, Russia is no stranger to cybercrime success. Russian-linked hackers earned more than $400 million in cryptocurrency in 2021 alone.
STOP THE CYBER WAR
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