Russia’s cyber offensive


“Today’s battlefield is the screen of the computer”

The term” Cyber warfare is the employment of digital attacks against an adversary state with the goal of causing similar damage to traditional warfare and/or disrupting critical computer systems. ”

In the last decade and a half, computing, communication, and display technology have evolved rapidly. Wealthy countries’ militaries, such as the United States’, have adopted a proactive approach to harnessing and combining these technologies under the banner of the digital battlefield. The army’s ability to meet and conquer the challenges of the twenty-first century has been revolutionised by the digital battlefield, which has evolved into the primary method of real-time situation awareness.

All sections of a world army’s combat squad, including tanks, fighting vehicles, helicopters, artillery, and convoy/support vehicles, are now connected on the digital battlefield. As a result, fighting capability has increased significantly, while military casualties have decreased significantly. On the other hand, with the help of hackers, any adversary government can control, defuse, or misuse war materials.

Cyber-attacks have moved from destroying and stealing data to gaining control of weapons and infrastructure, resulting in increased damage to economy and defence system. It is a concerning position for nuclear power countries to improve their cyber security capabilities.

Their nuclear assets will be lying useless if they are hacked and defused before launch or commanded against exploiting forces, which poses a serious threat to the entire globe.

Unfortunately, Russia has launched a military operation against Ukraine, causing widespread concern. Today’s wars are cyber wars or cyber wars controlled in cyber space using communication technology rather than traditional combat conducted with common weaponry on specific ground or boundary lines with the help of horses and swords.

Insidious new malware has been ascribed to a renowned Russia-backed hacking organisation, according to a cyber-report released by intelligence agencies in the UK and the US on February 23 of this year. The revelations came as Russia was preparing to invade Ukraine,

The National Cyber Security Centre in the UK and US entities such as the National Security Agency collaborated on the study. It warned that Sandworm, a Russian state-backed hacker gang, had developed a new type of malware dubbed Cyclops Blink, which targets Watch guard firewall devices used to defend PCs from hacking.

According to the research, the sophisticated virus may defy common countermeasures such as reboots. The revelations come as Ukraine’s allies, the United Kingdom and the United States, are on high alert for Russian state-sponsored hacking.

In its drive to destabilise Ukraine, Russia is using mercenaries, cyber-attacks, and targeted disinformation in conjunction with traditional warfare means. Ukraine has seen unprecedented cyber-attacks in the last week, affecting the military ministry as well as two major Ukrainian banks, PrivatBank and JSC Oschadbank. Customers as well as the entire online banking system were impacted. This was timed to correspond with reports from the frontlines in eastern Ukraine of increased confrontations between Russian-trained Luhansk and Donetsk rebels and Ukrainian army forces. These are only a few examples of the skirmishes in Russia’s Cyber warfare war with Ukraine, which has lasted for eight years. The rest of the world has mostly turned a blind eye, and for the people of Ukraine, it has simply become a part of life. “What is particularly important to remember in cyber warfare is that non-military means play a fundamental role. These days, Russia is launching a cyber-assault against Ukraine’s defence capabilities.

As Ukrainian towns come under airstrikes by Russian forces, the nation has also been targeted by the newest cyber strikes in a long-running operation.

The incident comes a little over a week after a similar cyber-attack that brought down 70 Ukrainian government websites, which was fully blamed on Russia by Ukraine and the United States. With a full-scale invasion now confirmed, Ukraine can expect and suffer from further cyber-attacks in the near future. Water, power, and telecommunications services have the potential to devastate Ukraine’s infrastructure, paralysing the country as it battles Russian military aggression because Russian hackers can easily crash websites or critical systems, causing outages of water, power, and disruption in communication of defence systems.

A Critical part of Russia’s Operations

Sabotage, espionage, and subversion are among the typical attack types that include cyber strikes, which can be carried out more quickly than traditional weapon attacks as they largely erase time and distance limitations. It is very inexpensive and simple to launch them, but defending against them is becoming increasingly costly and difficult.

President Vladimir Putin had modernised the Russian military and incorporated cyber techniques after Russia’s departure from Georgia in 2008. Since then, state-sponsored cyber strikes have been at the heart of Russia’s military policy.

These attacks are usually orchestrated by the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). They frequently entail the use of bespoke malware (malicious software) to attack the hardware and software that support a target country’s systems and infrastructure.

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is one of the most recent attacks on Ukraine.

Several Ukrainian government and financial websites fell offline as a result, Bots are used in DDoS attacks to flood an online service, overloading it until it crashes, preventing real users from accessing it.

Moreover, a harmful “data-wiping” malware has also been discovered circulating on hundreds of computers in Ukraine, with suspicion falling on Russia.

Ukraine’s cyber police reported on February 15 that citizens were receiving fraudulent text messages indicating that ATMs had gone offline, resultantly many people rushed to withdraw cash, causing panic and uncertainty. While Cyber-security researchers at ESET and Symantec have discovered a second type of attack on computer systems including sophisticated “wiper” malware; ESET researchers call it HermeticWiper, a new data wiper malware to be used in Ukraine, same virus has been installed on hundreds of machines across the country.

It is further revealed by researchers, the malicious software had a creation date of December 28, 2021, meaning that the attack had been prepared since then.

If we look at past the Russian hackers have got incapable track record of cyber-attacks in past, as per FBI in 2021 a Russian cyber-criminal organisation was responsible for a ransom-ware attack on the world’s largest meat processing facility. In this series of cyber-attacks, The GRU(Military Intelligence of Soviet Union) used harmful malware to target Ukraine’s industrial control systems networks in December 2015, in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region, this resulted in power disruptions. For roughly six hours, about 700,000 houses were without power, the power grid in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine fell down for six hours and two days before Christmas, leaving roughly half of the territory’s 1.4 million residents without electricity. In 2020, six Russian GRU officers were accused by US officials of distributing the NotPetya ransomware. This ransom ware infected computer networks all across the world, mostly targeting hospitals and medical facilities in the United States, resulting in losses of more than $1 billion.

NotPetya was also used against government agencies, banks, and energy corporations in Ukraine, among other targets. It was dubbed “some of the world’s most devastating malware to date” by the US Department of Justice.

Another attack, this time backed by Russia, began in January 2021 and targeted Microsoft Exchange servers. As a result of the attack, hackers gained access to email accounts and linked networks all around the world, including in Ukraine, the United States, and Australia.

According to a new study, Russia-linked hackers received 74% of all money made through ransom ware attacks in 2021. More than $400 million in crypto-currency transfers flowed to entities “very likely to be associated with Russia,”

According to the researchers, “a significant quantity of crypto-currency-based money laundering” is carried out through Russian crypto-companies.

Yet, Russia has refuted allegations that it is a safe haven for cybercriminals.

International cyber aid for Ukraine

Right now, Ukraine is in grave danger and uncertainty. A large-scale cyber-attack might interrupt critical services and jeopardize national security and sovereignty.

International aid has recognised the importance of supporting cyber infrastructure, so Six European Union countries (Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Romania, and Croatia) are sending cyber security professionals to Ukraine to assist in the fight against these attacks.

Through a bilateral cyber policy dialogue, Australia has also committed to giving cyber security assistance to the Ukrainian government. This move will enable Ukraine to learn about cyber-threat perceptions, policies, and strategies.

As a result of the incident this sequence of cyber threats the New Zealand’s National Cyber Security Centre has issued a General Security Advisory urging their businesses to prepare for cyber assaults in future. This cyber warfare has opened the eyes of all countries of the world to strengthen their cyber force.

Most importantly nuclear power countries have potential threats from the cyber-attacks therefore it the time strengthen cyber army for all countries and global coordination as cyber space have no boundary. In this connecion, the US spent $58.4 billion in FY-20221, on civilian IT, which will be used to deliver important citizen services, secure sensitive data and systems, and advance the goal of digital government.

Deployment of a Cyber Rapid Response Team (CRRT) in Europe

Following a request for assistance from Ukraine, the European Union has announced the deployment of a cyber-rapid-response team (CRRT).

Since 2019, the Cyber Rapid Response Teams have been in existence. A CRRT is made up of 8–12 cyber security specialists delegated by six EU member states—Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, and Romania—at the national level. The group is capable of assisting in the management of a cyber-incident as well as doing prevention and vulnerability assessments.

DDoS assaults have been utilised in a number of campaigns as part of Russia’s “Cyber warfare” tactics, which combine cyber-attacks with traditional military operations.

It was also implicated by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union in the massively disruptive NotPetya “wiper” attack, which began in Ukraine but spread globally, causing billions of dollars in damage to computer systems in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

Moscow denies involvement in the incident, calling such accusations “russophobic.”

Cyber-attacks could involve espionage, military and strategic data theft and corruption, denial of service attacks, or even command and control, cyber power has evolved into a military doctrine in defence and attack methods, making it a vital factor in military operations.

Cyber warfare is the purposeful attack on information systems for strategic or military reasons, using computer technology to impair a state’s or organization’s activities.

Physical systems and infrastructures connected to the internet are becoming vulnerable to cyber warfare.

So, it is the time for all countries to increase their capability of cyber security by designing and implementing cyber security polices because infrastructure every country and world as whole depending upon technology. So, if we want survive in this era we need to strengthen our cyber force.

Individual, national, and international peace has all been threatened by cyberspace, and this threat will only rise as the globe gets more connected. As a result, countries should develop cyber-threat plans and tools and procedures that can help them achieve certain national security goals.


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