Cyber war is a concept that has only grown in popularity in the media and among the public in recent years, and the heightened conflict between Russia and Ukraine has only fueled the fire. In 2022, only hours before Russian troops invaded, Ukraine was hit by a new malware designed to wipe data, begging the question: Is cyber war already here?
Nearly 200 cyberattacks were launched against Ukraine alone at the beginning of 2022, allowing hackers to disable important government databases, and causing many other countries across the globe to take action. In February of this year, the FBI asked US companies to alert them to “any increased [cyber] activity against Ukraine or US critical infrastructure. Studies show that the most targeted countries in the time periods with the highest volume of attacks are Russia, Ukraine, and the US. Despite these threats, experts say that for Russia, the war with Ukraine is only serving as a testing ground for the next generation of cyber weapons. Because the country is similar in structure but weaker in defense than many western nations, it serves as the perfect target for these malicious attacks.
Cyber attacks are not a new concept, in fact, some of the most notable attacks can be dated back to 2015, when suspected Russian hackers knocked out electricity for 230,000 customers in western Ukraine. Because of these long-lasting threats, both the EU and the US have attempted to provide aid, but reports show that ultimately, it is unlikely for the attacks to respect border lines.
A cyber war comes in many forms, ranging from a full on cyber war, to a smaller and more focused cyber attack. The connections between cyber and physical assets are growing, which brings a greater risk to both network and physical infrastructure security. Also, the pandemic and its ongoing effects have only heightened the potential for damage from cyber threats, as more information is being moved to the cloud and more services are beginning to be provided digitally. An isolated cyber attack may compromise electrical grids and vital technologies, while cyberwar has a much larger impact, causing widespread damage, loss of essential services, and many disruptions in one’s own life.
Nearly 100% of Americans fear cyberwar against the US, which is why, despite the US being ranked first for the most secure, many citizens are taking action to keep themselves and their assets safe. Updating software, owning a generator, and changing important passwords are some of the newest and most effective measures of protection, however, are successful when used in tandem to ensure the security of one’es own data.