Putin faces ‘discontent’ from inner circle, expert says
Russia has been accused of cyberattacks around the world for years and last week it was accused of shutting down public and private websites in Norway. An attack on the UK could be imminent according to the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), potentially affecting millions of people and causing the loss of money and sensitive information.
Professor Alan Woodward is a cybersecurity expert at the University of Surrey and he explained that cyberattacks are increasingly attacking software used by UK organisations.
So-called “supply chain attacks”, which target software, can cause chaos and result in the loss of billions of pounds in the economy.
Professor Woodward told Express.co.uk: “You discover software that is in use in an organization and you subvert that software so that, for example, on the next update it contains malware.
“It was seen when a small accounting software was mandated to be used by anyone doing business with Ukrainian companies – some ransomware was buried in it and caused billions of pounds in damage due to disruption.”
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According to the NCSC, supply chain cyberattacks have the potential to allow hackers to take control of the systems they have access to.
This could mean that sites containing secret information, such as government systems, could be hit by a cyberattack and taken over by hostile countries or people acting on their behalf.
A problem with cybersecurity today is that there are many different states or groups that would want to carry out such an attack on Britain.
Professor Woodward explained: “The biggest problem with attacks in cyberspace is attribution. Who knows? Most start with the obvious cui bono question. [who would benefit]?
“However, the bottom-line, low-intensity erosion of a country’s economic well-being can be achieved by many smaller, very hard-to-attribute attacks, rather than large Pearl Harbor attacks.
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“To deter attacks from nation states, the UK has built its own offensive cyber capability. It’s the same principle as nuclear weapons: don’t attack us or you’ll suffer an equally terrible attack in response.
“Unfortunately, things are not so well controlled and it can escalate quickly. Therefore, many question the wisdom of “back-hacking”.
In June, Microsoft announced that Russian hackers were launching attacks against 40 different countries supporting Ukraine.
A blog post on the company’s website explained: “The Russian military crossed the Ukrainian border on February 24, 2022, with a combination of troops, tanks, aircraft and cruise missiles.
“But the first shots were actually fired hours before when the calendar still showed February 23. They involved a cyberweapon called ‘Foxblade’ which was launched against computers in Ukraine.”
The British government said the same and identified Russia as “behind a series of cyberattacks since the start of the new invasion of Ukraine”.
But Russia said the United States and its allies were also using cyber warfare, accusing the West of “carrying out a large-scale cyberattack” against Russia.
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Putin’s hackers: Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned of Russia’s ability to use cyber warfare
Speaking on Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and malicious attack by Russia on Ukraine that had far-reaching consequences. impact on ordinary citizens and businesses in Ukraine and across Europe”.
The British government has accused Moscow of using smaller countries, such as Georgia, as testing grounds for cyberattacks.
A statement from Downing Street, which announced UK-Georgia cyber defense cooperation last week, accused Moscow of using Georgia as a testing ground for cyber warfare.
He said it started in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia and carried out a coordinated cyberattack to cripple the country’s defenses.
Increasingly, hostile states such as Russia may employ some type of cybermercenary to carry out hacking attacks, reminiscent of the Cold War era.
Professor Woodward said: “In the modern cyber threat landscape, nation states have the ability to use mercenaries as they did during the Cold War.
“Crime as a service is a growing trend in recent years: you can have malware and an infrastructure to run it on. That way it’s not traced back to a government facility.
This would mean a cyber attack on the UK could never be traced to Russia and prevent the country from blaming anyone.
On Sunday July 4, the British Army’s Twitter and YouTube accounts were hacked and an investigation is underway to find the culprit.
While in support, the Twitter account shared several posts about NFTs – non-fungible tokens or digital artwork, depending on the hackers’ guidelines.
A military spokesperson said: “We are aware of a breach of the military’s Twitter and YouTube accounts and an investigation is ongoing. We take information security very seriously and solve the problem. Until the investigation is complete, it would be inappropriate to comment further.