A study conducted by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) and the Cybersecurity Tech Accord reveals that state-sponsored cyberattacks are a major concern for private organisations, which could not only dent their reputation but also hit them financially. The study highlights how the pandemic has increased some of the risks that could lead to malicious cyberattacks orchestrated by state-led actors on their organisations.
“The rise in state-sponsored cyberattacks targeting other governments, businesses and even private citizens is extremely concerning and requires a global response,” Annalaura Gallo, Head of Secretariat, Cybersecurity Tech Accord, told Indianexpress.com in an email interview.
The Accord, which is a coalition of 150 companies, is the pact to jointly work together on cybersecurity issues. In 2018, a total of 34 big-tech companies including Facebook and Microsoft signed the Cybersecurity Tech Accord. Apple, Amazon and Alphabet are not part of the Cybersecurity Tech Accord.
The survey of more than 500 director-level executives from firms based in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the United States with familiarity with their organisation’s cybersecurity strategy found that state-led cyberattacks on their firms will only increase in the next five years. About 80 per cent of the respondents, who took part in the survey conducted between November and December 2020, indicated that state-led and sponsored cyberattacks are a source of major concern for organisations.
The recent SolarWinds hack that affected over 250 federal agencies including the U.S. Treasury Department, State Department, and even top Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, Cisco and Intel has shaken the cybersecurity world. Although the aftermath of the SolarWinds hack is yet to be evaluated, the breach posed a number of cybersecurity challenges that need to be addressed.
“At its core, these types of attacks illustrate why is it important that governments focus their attention on improving cyber defenses, but also agree on what actions should be prohibited online, and hold perpetrators accountable,” says Gallo.
State-sponsored cyber attacks have increased manifold in recent years. In June last year, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a press conference in which he revealed that the country was under a broad cyberattack from a “state-based actor” targeting government, public services and businesses. He declined to name the actor, but many speculated that the cyberattacks were part of Australia’s rising rift with China.
Cyber attackers are not even sparing hospitals that are already under increased pressure amid rising coronavirus cases. Last month, hospitals in France were hit with ransomware attacks as the IT systems at three hospitals were affected.
What’s important to note about the survey results is that 68 per cent of executives feel their organisations are “very” or “completely” prepared to deal with a cyberattack. However, the report noted that while many companies feel prepared to handle state-sponsored attacks, the reality is indeed very different.
“It is true that the importance of cybersecurity is still not something that is well understood by all organisations,” Gallo said. “We need to acknowledge that as in the offline world, there is no such thing as 100% security online. Organisations need to prioritise their investments and apply risk management principles to their overall security approaches,”