State-sponsored hacking has yet again reared its ugly head in our news cycle, as fresh articles highlight how Russian hackers were able to influence various social media users through online campaigns. But what exactly is state-sponsored hacking? What are the goals, methods and dangers?
Below, CyberPolicy looks at this phenomenon, its effects on culture and its effects on private industries. While it might be impossible to stop the most sophisticated hacker collectives in the world from breaching your network, it is possible to keep your company afloat with cyberattack insurance. Keep reading to find out how.
Government-Backed Hacking 101
To put it simply, government-backed hacking is a form of digital incursion that works to promote a nation’s interest at home or abroad. This could take the form of crashing a website critical of the state, or crippling the financial systems of an entire country.
By now, almost everybody is familiar with tactics Russian hackers used to hack and leak emails from the Democratic National Convention in order to damage former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. What is new, however, is the revelation that Russian infiltrators also used thousands of fake Facebook and Twitter accounts to pose as average Americans.
For example, an entirely invented Facebook user named Melvin Redick posted a link to a newly created website promising leaks critical of Clinton and George Soros.
“Mr. Redick turned out to be a remarkably elusive character. No Melvin Redick appears in Pennsylvania records, and his photos seem to be borrowed from an unsuspecting Brazilian,"” reports the New York Times. This wasn’t the only phony account either. “On Election Day, for instance, they found that one group of Twitter bots sent out the hashtag #WarAgainstDemocrats more than 1,700 times.”
More revelations will undoubtedly pour out in the future, but we are already seeing a sophisticated combination of weaponized data breaches and modified social engineering campaigns to influence public opinion.
But as much news space as they garner, Russia isn’t the only government bending the rules. State-sponsored hackers are also suspected in the ransomware that infected devices across more than 60 countries earlier this year; China is known to have spied on companies in the U.S. technology and pharmaceutical industries; and North Korea is suspected of having attempted to infiltrate electrical grids.
As you can see, the goals and methods behind state-sponsored hacking are varied. Even so, one thing is certain – the consequences of these kinds of attacks are dire.
Cyber Protections for Private Businesses
In most cases, cyber crooks are looking for an easy target to exploit. Therefore, the solution is rather straightforward – if you make yourself a tougher nut to crack, hackers will likely leave you be. After all, a cybercriminal wants money and data. It doesn’t have to be your money and data, just so long as they can steal it.
This isn’t the case for the most sophisticated and well-funded hackers on earth. Government-backed hackers have almost unlimited resources and well-defined targets. So stopping them dead in their tracks is about as likely as catching two identical snowflakes on a warm summer’s day.
That being said, there’s no need to abandon hope. You can still block a number of attacks by training your staff to sniff out fraudulent emails, software security gaps, malware and more.
And if a hacker does get through, cyberattack insurance can help assist you with financial damages, public disclosures and potential lawsuits. You might not be able to thwart the bad guys, but you can protect your own digital assets nonetheless with CyberPolicy.