The Geopolitics of Covert Cyber Warfare

Cyber warfare is a whole different ball game and many will be unaware but the world is being ushered into a new era of covert warfare.

The Geopolitics of Covert Cyber Warfare

The protection of networks from invasion and the theft of sensitive data has never been more important. Any disruption or misdirection of services can have a severe impact on businesses, individuals and more importantly governments. As the internet rapidly evolves and more corporations upload troves of data into the cloud the growing threats to online privacy and security have been increasing.

Cyber Warfare On The Rise
Cyber warfare is a whole different ball game and many will be unaware but the world is being ushered into a new era of covert warfare.

Geopolitics and its connection with cyberspace has become a key area to consider when investigations are conducted. As we have seen in 2020 tensions between nations have increased triggered by economic, social, environmental and resource competition which has fueled the political for conflict. This in turn brings about increased cyber activity and it’s no secret that over the years high-tech espionage has become rife and is being conducted for state advantage.

The world has seen tensions escalate over the last few years. Most notably the trade war between the U.S. and China - the Covid-19 pandemic has only made matters worse. Then there’s the issue between China and Hong Kong, India and China, Russia and Ukraine, U.S. and Mexico, the U.K. negotiating Brexit with Europe, South Korea and North Korea, Israel and Iran. The list goes on but you get the gist.

As events on the ground unfold between states there have been concurrent events occurring online in real time and this is where cybersecurity and disinformation campaigns come in. It has never been more important for organisations conducting business online from these countries to protect themselves and increase their cybersecurity. Governments are more aware of the tactics at play and are ensuring systems, especially those that hold sensitive information are protected at all costs.

According to the Radware Global Applications and Network Security report at the end of 2019, over a quarter of companies experienced a foreign government or nation state attack. In 2018, 19% of organizations believed they were attacked by a nation-state. That figure increased to 27% in 2019.

The Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) ranked the U.K. at number one in terms of being “committed to cybersecurity” followed by the U.S, France, Lithuania and Estonia, Singapore, Spain, Malaysia, Norway and Canada in that order. The countries with the most developed cyber warfare capabilities include the U.K., U.S, China, Russia, Israel, Iran and North Korea.

Nation State Attacks On The Rise
Iran has opened a new front and most recently researchers at Microsoft said hackers linked to the Iranian government had targeted the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The group attacked more than 200 email accounts which belonged to people associated with "a U.S. presidential campaign."

In May 2020 Israel's national cyber chief acknowledged the country had thwarted a major cyber attack against its water systems, calling it a “synchronized and organized attack” aimed at disrupting Israel’s key national infrastructure. The assault was widely attributed to Iran.

Another more notable case in 2012 is when Iranian hackers struck Saudi Arabia’s oil company, Saudi Aramco, attacking its IT structure and bringing the company close to collapse.  It is extremely dangerous when one nation-state penetrates another nation’s networks with the sole purpose of causing damage and disruption.

Cyber Espionage
Cyber espionage is another global issue. There are hackers looking to steal data and secrets which will benefit their country’s economy and strengthen business and military strategies. The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimates that counterfeit goods, pirated software and stolen trade secrets cost the U.S. economy $600 billion annually.

Governments operate cyber espionage teams to both protect their national interests and collect IP for their domestic industries. They hack public-sector databases and leak information from government agencies, says Radware.

With all the conflicts going on around the world and the spread of Covid-19 which nobody would have predicted it’s a very tense time for the cybersecurity industry. One thing is for sure - cyber threats are here to stay and it is important to have a robust protection plan and be prepared for any scenario.

The awesome image used in this article is called Hacker Floor and was created by Juan Casini.