Posted by: Greg Ness | August 16, 2017

Is Ukraine a Testing Ground for Cyber Attacks?

As nations and syndicates pursue their interests, they will become sponsors of offensive and defensive cyber capabilities, including information warfare, theft, and attacks designed to take down critical infrastructure. This could explain why–after billions in losses–there are no cyber treaties in place and attacks against election infrastructures are mere diplomatic affairs.

Let’s face it. We are all in the epicenter of an ongoing conflict, exposed to a new kind of Ruins1digital age risk. And in the years ahead it will get harder to discern who or what to trust. And trust is the fabric of civilization. Trust in institutions.  Trust in the availability of water, power or even banking and/or health services. When trust is broken many more things eventually break.

Many civilizations have discovered this the hard way. Today as the pace of life quickens and the ability to mobilize gets easier, institutions struggle with maintaining stability. As we’ve seen around the world, nations running on file folders and traditions cannot keep up with populations empowered by digital connectivity. Connectivity is the new backbone of a nation and yet its biggest vulnerability.

Radio, television and print were all essentially one to many broadcast mediums that helped public institutions maintain trust. The internet and social media are many to many mediums that can erode trust faster than the broadcast media can maintain it. So we see mayhem in Ukraine. And its spread throughout the world, shutting down hospitals and shipping companies.

We’ve entered a new era. And Ukraine may be its poster child.

Ignore Ukraine at your Own Peril

Ukraine has evolved into a kind of microcosm of the East/West conflict and, even more importantly, it is digitally connected to the east and west. It is the front line in a global cyber conflict.

In June I explained how increasing digital connectivity and blurred lines between nations and digital systems will expose servers and applications globally to more collateral damage from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.  More recently I discussed how global brands will be increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks. The digital age will separate trusted and untrusted brands.

Ukrainian infrastructure is already being attacked, most likely in order to undermine public trust in the young government. Some of those attacks have already spread well beyond Ukraine. The NotPetya malware attack, for example, is estimated to have caused almost $1B in damages globally.

The latest outbreak was directed against businesses in Ukraine, but they apparently underestimated the malware’ spreading capabilities. That’s why the malware went out of control.

– Telebots are Back, Anton Cherepanov, welivesecurity, June 30, 2017

This year at Future in Review we decided to shift from the evolution of cloud computing1 track (which had lasted more than 6 years) to the rise of cyber security as a critical and strategic IT theme. I cannot think of a more timely topic.

I highly recommend this panel as an insight into the world’s future and this cyber conflict and the impact it could have on trust, the fabric of digital civilization. Here are the videos from last year’s Future in Review.

 

Ukraine is the Cyber War Front Line: Future in Review Panel

Actual date and time (entire event is October 10-13) is being set.  I’ll update as soon as it is published.

Dmytro Shymkiv – Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine

Bob Flores – Founder/Partner of Cognitio and Former CTO of the US Central Intelligence Agency

Phillip Lohaus2 – Research Fellow, Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies, American Enterprise Institute

Moderated by: Gregory Ness, VP, Vidder

 

Background

Wired – How an Entire Nation became Russia’s Test Lab for Cyberwar – Andy Greenberg

US News and World Report – A Vulnerable Castle in Cyberspace – Phillip Lohaus

Reuters – Corporate profits to take more hits from Ukraine cyber attack – Jim Finkle and Eric Auchard

Newsweek – Whose Cyberattack Brought Ukraine to a Shuddering Halt? – Nolan Peterson

Vidder blog– We are Now at War – Cyber War – Gregory Ness

welivesecurity – TeleBots are back: Supply-chain attacks against Ukraine – Anton Cherepanov

======

 

1- The cloud track started in 2009 with a panel that led to the formation of the now-defunct Infrastructure 2.0 Working Group and culminated with last year’s Future in Review cloud panel.

 

2- Phillip is the author of A Vulnerable Castle in Cyberspace- see Background

 

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Responses

  1. https://siliconangle.com/blog/2017/08/16/shipping-giant-maesrk-says-notpetya-attack-cost-300m/ Maersk says Pteya attack caused $300M in damages…

  2. Cyber Is By Definition Inherently Destabilizing https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomgillis/2015/10/20/cyber-is-by-definition-inherently-destabilizing/#3fef162376d1
    Related article from Forbes… G


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