September 15, 2022 — Candid Wuest

Is there a cyberconflict happening behind the scenes?

Cyber Protect
for businesses

If you’re reading this, you’re somehow connected to the cyberworld that’s rapidly transforming the way the world functions. There’s a global digital dependency happening right now, accelerated even further by a pandemic driving the need for remote services in nearly every industry. While this adaptation means an overall benefit to progressive societies, it opens new and innovative ways for cyberattackers to target organizations and consumers alike. Even those who aren’t connected can be negatively impacted by the digital world and cyberattacks, which has people around the world asking: is there a cyberbattle going on?

Cyberattacks can and will impact people way beyond the reach of what many might expect. One famous example was when meatpacker JBS USA was hit with a ransomware attack in June of 2021 that cost the company over $11 million. JBS meat plants, which produce nearly a quarter of America’s beef, restored global operations three days after the attack, but not without their distribution of meat having been severely disrupted during the downtime — affecting millions of Americans everywhere. Attacks against energy and other utility providers also impact people globally, with one significant event occurring this past July 8th. Rogers Communications Inc. experienced a major outage, disrupting the internet usage of over ten million Canadians while also complicating emergency services and shutting down ATMs.

Earlier this year, Costa Rica suffered from a ransomware attack that affected multiple government agencies, paralyzing the entire country. Even citizens who weren’t directly connected to the internet were afflicted by this shutdown, halting more than 30,000 medical appointments and disrupting tax payments. A hotel in Austria was also recently hit by multiple ransomware attacks, causing their booking system to shut down and room keys to no longer work — requiring hotel staff members to personally escort each booked guest to their hotel room. After four separate attacks, the hotel reverted to using old, standard keys, relieving them of the headache of having to deal with constant downtime from digital keys. In this way, cyberattacks are indirectly causing people and businesses alike to revert to old, analog services to avoid frustrating disruptions in digital services.

Last month, Swiss airspace was shut down for hours after a technical glitch prompted officials to ground all flights and suspend all aircraft from flying in Swiss airspace. Although this wasn’t directly caused by a cyberattack, it’s still compelling evidence for the case that the digital world has crept into the lives of everyone. Therefore, what we do at Acronis matters — we aren’t just protecting companies directly, but are also protecting those who the companies serve, a service that extends far beyond what most would expect.

At the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict earlier this year, Russians attacked a satellite provider in Ukraine, adversely impacting countries, including Germany and France, and bricking edge devices across the continent. This affected both civilian and military communications — hindering war efforts on the Ukrainian side, and evacuation efforts for fleeing citizens. These attacks aren’t just being carried out by high-level nation-state actors; they’re also being carried out by hacktivists and volunteers. Even simple distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks can generate considerable damage with the right number of devices. Cybercriminals can achieve these attacks thanks to outdated or badly configured infrastructure, highlighting how important it is for enterprises to keep their infrastructure updated and periodically reconfigured.

However, even with all these malicious examples, hacking still hasn’t realized the level of damage commonly seen in movies and TV shows. It isn’t a quick process of typing nonsense into a terminal punctuated with cheers of “I’m in!”; rather, it’s an arduous task of trial and error, with an intended result of generating chaos and distrust. Additionally, it’s not just the bad guys who are evolving; it’s the good guys, too. Cyber protection platforms are constantly improving, and the cybersecurity job market is rapidly growing. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, for example, have been implemented in cybersecurity solutions, enabling the analysis of millions of data sets and detecting possible breaches exponentially faster than humans.

In the end, attacks are looking for low-hanging fruit. Obvious exploits will be, obviously, exploited; outdated infrastructure will be penetrated; and gaps will be found and used to sneak into backends. Ultimately, it helps to look at cybersecurity like a car. A car is equipped with seatbelts, airbags, and a reinforced metal frame, along with a plethora of other safety features all designed to limit the impact of an accident as much as possible. Car manufacturers know they can help avoid accidents with features such as blind-spot monitors and collision detectors; but mitigating potential damage from impacts is equally as important, and each safety feature minimizes damage in its own, unique way. This is what Acronis Cyber Protect sets out to do, with a simple, integrated platform that monitors and controls all cyber protection and data backup needs — taking needless complexity out of what should be a simplified process.

With a large toolset, companies also need the right people to use these tools. Hiring and training team members to use these tools is as crucial as installing and implementing the tools themselves. And with the right combination of people, training, and toolsets, organizations can lessen the impact of potential attacks on themselves — and those around them. Even if there’s a constant struggle between cyberattackers and defenders, with the right preparation and damage control, tech and global leaders can keep the impact of attacks to a minimum. By implementing these steps, the good will prevail in the end.

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