03-25-22 | Blog Post

How to Prepare for the Upcoming Surge in Russian Cyber Activity

Blog Posts

As war continues to be waged in Ukraine, United States citizens are beginning to feel a larger impact of the turmoil, and now American businesses are in the crosshairs. For the last few weeks, the US government has been preparing the private sector for the imminent flood of malicious cyber-activity emanating from Russia, a response to the heavy sanctions imposed by the White House. On March 21, President Joe Biden strongly reiterated his previous warnings after new intelligence showed preparatory activity from the Kremlin, staging what appears to be a cyber-assault on the United States’ economy.

Since most of the United States’ critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, it is extremely important that these businesses take measures into their own hands to protect their systems, employees and data from cybercrime. To encourage this, the White House released an official Fact Sheet to assist these private businesses in protecting their assets and operations.

Otava is committed to winning the cyber-war against Russia, and are proud of our unique position to protect and serve in our own way. Education is first and foremost, so we wanted to expand on some of the tools and steps you can take to lock-down your business from cyberattacks.

Two-Factor Authentication

If you aren’t already utilizing two-factor authentication to secure your data, now is definitely the time to start. Passwords are still the frontline of defense when it comes to cybercrime, and today’s dispersed workforce creates a big opportunity for hackers. As noted as bullet number one in the White House’s Fact Sheet, this tool is a must-have to prepare for the uptick in Russian cyberactivity.

Two-factor authentication often referred to as “2FA”, is an optimal security measure that protects against cybercrime and unauthorized access for clients connecting to networks or applications from a remote location. By linking the second authentication factor to a personal device, you can achieve improved security and greatly reduce your risk of compromise. 2FA is not only required to meet PCI compliance but it’s generally recommended as a best practice for a strong cybersecurity posture.

Otava is here to help you deploy 2FA ASAP – contact us today.

Ransomware Protection

One of the most popular forms of cybercrime, but still effective and devastating nonetheless, is ransomware. A favorite of Russian black-hats, ransomware encrypts a system’s data after infiltration and holds it hostage until a ransom is collected. This ransom can be anywhere from $500 to $5,000,000, and if your data isn’t backed-up you may have no choice but to pay up. That’s why it is vitally important to have one or many ransomware protection tools at work thwarting cybercriminals who are trying to infect your systems.

We can surmise that ransomware will be one of the most leveraged vectors of attack used by the Russians in the upcoming weeks. Businesses can prepare by assessing their risk using vulnerability scanning to uncover any gaps in their security, and then leveraging ransomware protection and other solutions to fill them. A vulnerability scan will also uncover any patches and updates that need to be made to prevent any exploits to your system. Otava is standing by 24×7 to help you identify and fill any gaps in security – contact us today to get started.

Data Backups

Perhaps the most important step of all to prepare for the surge in cybercrime is backing up your data – and doing so in more than one way and location. If the worst-case scenario hits your business, your data backups might just be your ace-in-the-hole to keep operations running. When all else fails, having a recent, reliable source of backups can mean the difference of life and death for a business.

As noted in the White House Fact Sheet, it’s important to house your data backups beyond the reach of criminals. But what exactly does that mean? It means backing your data up to multiple locations, both online and offline. Backing up data to the cloud in multiple geographically diverse data centers is an excellent strategy to improve the reliability of your backups, and regularly testing these backups is also essential. Creating and storing multiple routine backups offline continues to decrease the risk of data loss and puts your data out of the reach of online criminals. Otava provides many different backup solutions to fit each unique business – contact us today to configure one of your own before it’s too late.

Educate your employees

Vitally important to any organization’s security is its first line of defense – people. Human error is responsible for an overwhelming majority of cyber-breaches, so this leaves the largest room for improvement. It’s hard to blame us people when in today’s world there are countless forms of new, unfamiliar cyberthreats, and they continue to evolve and change. That’s why the White House is encouraging organizations to educate their workforce to common tactics used by black-hats, like phishing, and encouraging them to immediately report any suspicious behavior or activity to CISA.

CISA Shields Up Campaign

Keep up-to-date with the latest security guidelines from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency by participating in the Shields Up campaign. Shields Up was created in response to the recent Russian cyber-aggression, and provides information, tools and resources to help secure private businesses. It also facilitates clear communication amongst organizations to identify and report new forms of cybercrime. Campaigns like this help businesses big and small recognize emerging forms of cyberthreats and provides steps to properly protect themselves from them.

The Bottom Line

The time to bolster security with a defense-in-depth strategy is here. The United States have seen the capabilities of Russian hackers, from zero-day exploits to sophisticated phishing attacks, and one thing remains clear: nothing is off the table. It is the private sector’s responsibility to take the steps to secure the critical infrastructure and services that Americans rely on – and Otava is here to help.

Let us be your ally in this war on cybercrime. Our experts are standing by to architect and rapidly deploy solutions that will protect your business from the upcoming surge in malicious cyber-activity. Take the White House’s warnings to heart by securing your business before it is too late. Get in touch with an Otava rep today and do your part to thwart Russian cybercrime

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