Story image

Exclusive: How nation-state attacks impact businesses

13 Aug 2018

With tensions between global superpowers rising, cyber attacks have become a new frontier for governments to gain an advantage over one another.

SecurityBrief spoke to PAS Global CEO and industrial cybersecurity veteran Eddie Habibi about nation-state attacks, the motivations behind them, and how organisations get caught in the crossfire.

How do nation-state cyber attacks affect businesses?

Nation-state cyberattacks pose a significant risk to businesses, ranging from theft of high-value intellectual property (IP) to complete shutdown of operations and irreparable damage to brand reputation.

Nowhere is this risk more prominent today than in critical infrastructure.

A cyber attack on the digital industrial control systems that enable safe operations can be manipulated to cause physical damage to a process, power, or manufacturing plant.

What form do these attacks usually take?

Nation-states have shown a great deal of interest in attacking the institutions and industries that define the strength of a nation.

That includes everything from manipulation of social attitudes about hot political topics to the disruption of electricity services by shutting down the power grid.

What are the typical motivations of a nation-state attack?

While it is difficult to speculate the exact reasons for any single nation-state attack, it is generally recognised that cyber attacks are a new, inexpensive, and stealth weapon of choice that can potentially cripple an economy and create chaos in a sustained multi-channel attack.

At this stage, I believe most nation-states are hard at work developing both offensive and defensive cyber weapons as a means of survival for the inevitable.

What can businesses do to prepare for the impact of such attacks?

Businesses must take a strategic approach to cybersecurity, especially in the critical infrastructure.

While being wary of the hype, businesses must also recognise that the Pandora’s box has been opened and there is no turning back.

A robust cybersecurity strategy, especially for operational technology (OT) assets, starts with industrial endpoint protection.

At the heart of endpoint protection is configuration security management.

Configuration security includes establishing an accurate and complete inventory of control system assets, identifying and addressing known vulnerabilities, institutionalising a strict management of change process, and securing an evergreen backup.

This is known as foundational security.

The rest of the security stack includes anomaly and threat detection, firewalls and access control, antivirus and more.

What are common misconceptions businesses usually have about these attacks?

The greatest misperceptions about cybersecurity risk associated with industrial control systems (ICS) include:

  •  my ICS is “air-gapped” (not connected to the Internet) and therefore secure;
  •  traditional IT security protection measures are adequate for protecting industrial control systems (ICSs)
  •  and most concerning is, IT alone, without the close involvement of OT experts, can solve the problem
Hybrid cloud security big concern for business leaders
A new study highlights that IT and security professionals have significant concerns around security for hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments.
GitHub launches fund to sponsor open source developers
In addition to GitHub Sponsors, GitHub is launching the GitHub Sponsors, GitHub will match all contributions up to $5,000 during a developer’s first year in GitHub Sponsors.
Check Point announces integration with Microsoft Azure
The integration of Check Point’s advanced policy enforcement capabilities with Microsoft AIP’s file classification and protection features enables enterprises to keep their business data and IP secure, irrespective of how it is shared. 
ESET researchers break down latest arsenal of the infamous Sednit group
At the end of August 2018, the Sednit group launched a spear-phishing email campaign, in which it distributed shortened URLs that delivered first-stage Zebrocy components.
Container survey shows adoption accelerating while security concerns remain top of mind
The report features insights from over 500 IT professionals.
Google 'will do better' after G Suite passwords exposed since 2005
Fourteen years is a long time for sensitive information like usernames and passwords to be sitting ducks, unencrypted and at risk of theft and corruption.
Who's watching you? 
With privacy an increasing concern amongst the public, users should be more aware than ever of what personal data companies hold.
Fake apps on Google Play scamming users out of cryptocurrency
Fake cryptocurrency apps on Google Play have been discovered to be phishing and scamming users out of cryptocurrency, according to a new report from ESET.