As soon as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, some warned of a true “cyber bomb” that would shut down all of Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. However, that doomsday scenario has not yet been realized. Have you ever misjudged Russia’s cyber capabilities? Or is there anything in the future? This is what experts say.

1. Has Russia already launched a cyberattack in Ukraine?

Sure enough, long before the invasion began. For example, in 2015, Russian hackers severely disrupted Ukraine’s power grid, causing hundreds of thousands of people to lose electricity. In 2017, the malicious software “malware” NotPetya caused huge problems not only in Ukraine but also in other countries. Companies in the energy, public transport and banking sectors have run into problems.

“And at the end of February, in the first stage of the Russian invasion, there was an attack in Ukraine using a wiper (a malware that erases the hard disk of an infected computer and makes it unusable),” said Eddy Willems, security officer. I am saying. Expert in the German company G Data. “They aimed to close many Ukrainian companies.”

“We also see some DDOS attacks going back and forth between the two countries, but with some preparation, we can, in principle, counter them within an hour.” DDOS attacks Is an attempt to shut down a computer, network, website, or service with a large number of communication requests. Hacker group Anonymous also announced Robin Hood-like actions against Russia.

2. It doesn’t sound like a catastrophic cyber war.

“We certainly can’t talk about the famous’cyber bomb’yet yet,” agrees Stijn Rommens of cybersecurity firm Vectra. “So far, I’ve only seen cyber precision weapons that attack specific targets.” It tells him- “purely strategically, I don’t approve”-a “logical first move” by Russia. Seems like.

3. Is that possible, or is it such a “cyber atomic bomb”?

Theoretically, yes, says Rommens and Willems. “You shouldn’t imagine it with a single push of a button,” Willems emphasizes. “I think the idea of ​​a kind of” kill switch “is ridiculous. However, you can use a destructive virus to launch a series of large-scale attacks on your infrastructure. “

Rommens says there are signs that the FSB, the Russian intelligence agency and successor to the KGB, has made such attacks on the power supplies of other countries in the past.

So far, we’ve only seen cyber precision weapons that attack specific targets.

Stijn Rommens of cybersecurity company Vectra

There is also the threat of the Conti Group, a hacker group that may have been behind a major cyberattack on the port company Sea-Invest. They have the ability and skill to break into machines and take over them at some point. They have often been on computers for months. “

“But within the Conti Group, there is a serious disagreement about explicit support for Russia. The group seems to have collapsed. Now many members are waiting to see if they can make a new start. increase.”

File image for explanation.

4. Why has Russia not yet deployed major resources?

There are different theories about this, says Kenneth Rason, an intelligence and anti-terrorism expert at the University of Antwerp and the Klingendal Institute. “One is whether we overestimated Russia’s cyber-attack capabilities or underestimated Ukraine’s cyber defenses.” That would parallel the unexpectedly slow advance of Russian troops on the ground.

For example, the recent bombing of the Ukrainian television tower has frowned experts. “The question arises why we physically bomb when we have the cyber ability to shut down the entire network: do they really have that ability?”

There is speculation as to whether Russia’s invasion was too early: their cyber forces were not yet ready.

Eddy Willems, G Data Security Expert

You can hear the same sound from Eddie Willems. “If this was really all, we would certainly have overestimated them. There is also speculation as to whether Russia’s invasion was too early. Their cyber forces weren’t ready yet. is.”

Of course, the other option is that Russians don’t want to show the cybermap yet. Rommens is more of the latter. “Obviously, when you drop an atomic bomb, the threat is lost.” Moreover, Ukraine has already been hit particularly hard. “Therefore, if something really goes on, I think it will focus primarily on the western power infrastructure. Paralyzing the power supply will flatten Europe.”

Lasoen is unaware that the latter will occur soon. “US President Joe Biden spoke threatening words about the potential of Russia’s cyberattacks. There is too much uncertainty for Russians about possible consequences and escalations,” Willems agrees. increase. “They seem to be more focused on war because they can’t control their cyber capabilities well. Targeted attacks can have very bad consequences for NATO.”

File image for explanation.

5. Is it possible that you misunderstand the meaning of “cyberwarfare”?

Kenneth Lasoen points out that we should not lose track of false information on the Internet about this war. “Russia has been particularly good at manipulating communication and information for 100 years to misunderstand us and their people,” he said. “For example, Ukrainians are now fully described by Russia as inhumane, but Ukraine itself is not indifferent in the region.”

The internet also makes it possible to do it on a huge scale. “And to make disinformation as reliable as possible, the approach is always very subtle and well thought out. It could be the real cyber warfare that is happening right now.”

Source: vrt


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