As the Russian conflict in Ukraine grows more deadly by the day, many in the United States intelligence community have a growing fear that Russian hackers could go after American businesses.
On Monday, President Joe Biden urged American industries to better their online defenses, citing the threat that Russia could use cyber attacks as tensions continue to escalate.
“The point is that he has the capability,” Biden told the Business Roundtable Quarterly Meeting in Washington. “He hasn’t used it yet, but it’s part of his playbook.”
On March 18th, the FBI put out an advisory to American businesses, warning of Russian linked internet addresses that have been scamming energy companies over the past year.
The FBI also included ‘significant’ vulnerabilities common in US systems that Russian hackers have often exploited. Last year, a hacker breached Florida’s water supply, one of the largest meat producers, and shut down America’s largest fuel pipeline for a week.
“The threat will probably continue long after this conflict is over,” David Murphy, cybersecurity manager at accounting firm Schneider Downs and a former National Security Agency analyst, told CNN Business. “I think it’ll just increase with time.”
While the advice sounds obvious, so many businesses do not keep their system’s software up to date – whether out of laziness or cheapness. Software updates often include security patches, so don’t let them pile up in your email.
“It’s like raising the cost for the adversary… if I make it a little harder, they go on to the next victim,” said Karen Evans, managing director of the Cyber Readiness Institute, which provides resources for businesses to shore up their cyber defenses.
There are three general rules that should keep you safe. Make sure you use good passwords. Add an extra symbol and mix up casing. Be careful plugging any USB drive into your computer. Even buying them online from questionable vendors could open you up to an attack. Finally, be careful of believing what you’re being told. From a personal perspective, someone sent me a message that looked exactly like a Bank of America email. When I clicked the link, it took me to a site that looked just like that of Bank of America. If I did what the email was instructing, my entire account could have been lost. Call your bank if you get a message about an issue with an account. The same applies to Amazon.
Be careful ladies and gentleman, cyber security is vitally important and attacks are increasing.