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How to Protect Your Business from Cyberattacks During the Russia-Ukraine Cyber War

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On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine with several air missile attacks and large ground invasions across the country in an effort to prevent Ukraine from joining the (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) NATO alliance. As a result, more than 4 million people fled Ukraine and there have been thousands of civilian deaths to date. On March 23, 2022, the US government declared Russia’s actions as war crimes that had “deliberately target[ed] civilians.”  

People around the world are collectively grieving and supporting Ukraine through various uses of technology. From booking Ukrainian Airbnbs to sending cryptocurrency to crowdfunding campaigns, the world has shown it is keen to help. And of course, many are wondering about the current cybersecurity and cyber war between Russia and Ukraine. 

In this article, we will go over how various technology is playing a role in the Russia-Ukraine war, as well as the current state of the cybersecurity in Ukraine. 

How Airbnb Played a Role in the Russian-Ukraine War 

Surprisingly, the travel app – Airbnb – played a significant role in supporting Ukrainians during the Russian-Ukraine war. The app allows individuals to list their homes, apartments, or bedrooms for short-term rentals, focusing on travellers. Guests will stay in the home with the host, or the host may rent out the entire place for their guests.  

From the company itself, Airbnb temporarily suspended service in Russia and removed fees for stays in Ukraine. It also launched the website to fund “short term housing for up to 100,000 people fleeing Ukraine.” Airbnb adds “that it will offer free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. These stays will be funded by Airbnb, Inc., donors to Airbnb.org – an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization – and the generosity of Hosts through Airbnb.org.” Thus far, 

From the global Airbnb community at large, people started booking Airbnb’s in Ukraine that they did not intend to stay in as a way to send immediate funds directly to Ukrainians in need. The movement was started by popular Instagram meme-r, Quentin Quarrantino – who shared the idea to his 926k Instagram followers and within hours, hundreds of people had booked Ukranian Airbnbs. According to Airbnb, “On March 2 and March 3, there were more than 61,000 nights booked in Ukraine around the world, including more than 34,000 nights booked by US guests,” totalling $1.9M in bookings. 

How Cryptocurrency Played a Role in the Russian-Ukraine War 

Perhaps unsurprisingly in 2022, cryptocurrency played a role in the Russia-Ukraine war as well. The Ukrainian non-profit, Come Back Alive, “has accepted cryptocurrency since 2018, provides the military with equipment, training services and medical supplies,” and was the organization behind raising crypto funds for the military. Over a 12-hour period following the attacks on February 24th, almost $400k was donated in Bitcoin to Come Back Alive.  

Cryptocurrency is increasingly being used to support and crowdfund various projects. This may be due to the stricter policies that crowdfunding platforms tend to hold. Come Back Alive also started a Patreon that raised over $300k that got taken down. Patreon is traditionally used as a membership platform for creators to charge a monthly fee for their creative services. All the money raised on the Patreon platform for Ukraine got refunded to the donors. According to CNBC, a Patreon spokesperson stated that the crowdfunding company “does not allow any campaigns involved in violence or purchasing of military equipment, regardless of their cause.” 

How Ukraine Is Impacted by Russian Cyberattacks 

While the physical war has been in full force, Russian President Putin seems to be holding off on cyber warfare against Ukraine. Given recent US-based ransomware attacks like the Colonial Pipeline attack, many cybersecurity experts are questioning why Russian forces didn’t launch cyberattacks against critical infrastructures like water supply, cell networks, electricity, and more. 

However, cybersecurity professionals say the cyberwar has been slowly building up. According to Theresa Payton – the former White House CIO – “it is possible that digital attacks are under way and not fully understood in the fog of a ground war.” 

On the other hand, some cybersecurity experts speculate that Russia didn’t have the capabilities to launch a full-scale cyberwar against Ukraine. But, according to US President Joe Biden, “the magnitude of Russia’s cyber capacity is fairly consequential and it’s coming.” He continues on to warn American individuals and businesses to take necessary steps to protect themselves against Russian cyberattacks. 

How to Protect Your Business Against Russian Cyberattacks 

Given Canada and Justin Trudeau’s support for Ukraine in the Russia-Ukraine war, Canadian businesses should remain cautious and take steps to avoid potential Russian cyberattacks. Next, we’ll discuss 3 tips to protect your business against cyberattacks. 

1. Remind Your Users of Best Practices to Avoid Phishing Scams – Phishing links are a surprisingly common entry-point for cybercriminals because it relies on user error. Cybercriminals send users malicious links that contain malware while pretending to be someone else, offering something, or performing other kinds of social engineering acts to get the user to click on the link. Remind your users not to click on suspicious links, to check the email address of the sender, and to report suspicious activity to your IT department. It’s a good idea to set your employees up with a refresher course on phishing and how to avoid potential malware.  

2. Prepare Your Technology for an Emergency – How much money would you lose if your system went down for 2 hours? In the event of an emergency, would your systems and data be safe? Creating a strategic data recovery plancan help you reduce the risk of data loss due to cyberattacks and avoid potential downtime.  

3. Do a Cybersecurity Audit – The best way to protect your organization is to understand exactly what you’re dealing with so you can take steps to mitigate your risks. You should identify all the potential entry points or vulnerabilities cybercriminals could leverage. Start by understanding what software you have in your environment. You may need to consult your 3rd party software vendors about their SOC plans or look up their known bugs and vulnerabilities. 

If you are concerned about phishing attacks, ransomware, or other cyber threats against your business, consult the security experts at Microserve who have more than 30 years of cybersecurity experience. We can help you and your business prepare and protect against looming cybersecurity threats.