Russia Cautions Cyber Attacks May Start Military Confrontation

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Ukrainian flag on the background of the rally. No war. Support for Ukraine

The growing number of cyber-attacks since Russia’s war against Ukraine has led The Russian Foreign Ministry to warn that more western cyber-attacks on its infrastructure could lead to a direct military confrontation. 

Housing Ministry Website Hack

The warning followed an apparent cyber-attack on the Russian housing ministry website, which displayed a “Glory to Ukraine” sign (in Ukrainian). 

Several Russian state-owned companies and news organisations have been targeted with cyber-attacks since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February. For example, hacks have affected Russia’s RuTube video-hosting platform and the satellite television broadcast of Moscow on Victory Day. 

Interstate Confrontation Threat Increased

Russia has claimed that its critical infrastructure and state institutions are being hit by more cyber-attacks from the United States and Ukraine. This has triggered an accusation by Russia that the U.S. is “deliberately lowering the threshold for the combat use” of IT and the chilling warning that “The militarisation of the information space by the West, and attempts to turn it into an arena of interstate confrontation, have greatly increased the threat of a direct military clash with unpredictable consequences.” 

Cyber Attacks By Russia

There were, of course, no references made to the many cyber-attacks emanating from Russia from the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine. For example: 

– Back in January, defacements of Ukrainian government websites and the deployment of Whispergate destructive malware were believed to have been carried out by Russian Military Intelligence. 

– In February, the cyber-attack impacting Viasat. 

– The cyber-attacks on oil facilities in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.  

– It’s also worth remembering that last year, the U.S. sanctioned Russia over the ‘SolarWinds attack’ where alleged Russian-state-sponsored cyber-criminals accessed 18,000 government and private computer networks, and over alleged Interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. 

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

State-sponsored cyber-attacks are nothing new and have been ongoing for many years to steal secrets, disrupt, interfere, and apply pressure as part of the power struggle between many countries, notably between the east and west. Therefore, it should be no surprise to Putin’s government that following their cyber-attacks against and the invasion of Ukraine, cyber-attacks on their own state’s infrastructure would follow. Based on the magnitude of recent threats by Russia, the strong wording of its warning over cyber-attacks is also to be expected. It could also be a sign that recent cyber-attacks are causing enough damage and disruption to be noticed by the Russian people and annoy Putin’s government. The list of businesses and global companies that have now pulled out of Russia is significant and still growing. The news indicates that sanctions have a massive impact on the Russian economy. For example, the Institute of International Finance estimated that the crisis could wipe out 15 years of economic development. The IIF estimates Russia’s gross domestic product will shrink by 15 per cent this year. Many of the big names that have pulled out of Russia will, of course, suffer financial consequences but may also now want to boost their cyber defences in case Russian state-sponsored hackers directly target them.