Dan received the CompTIA IT Operations Specialist (cert.) in 2010 and worked in the computer repair/networking industry for several years.
In a sense, computer programmers are the gatekeepers of the world. Many of them are malicious and responsible for the data breaches we read about. When criminals use computers as tools for illegal ends, cybercrime takes place. Cyberwarfare occurs when multiple parties or geographical regions engage in cybercrime against one another.
When the Russian army invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the prospect of cyberwarfare against the United States increased. Vladimir Putin, mastermind of the invasion, threatened that if the U.S. continued intervening in the war then it would be targeted in cyberattacks.
Given Russia's lengthy history of conducting cybercrime, the prospect of such an attack is not far-fetched. On April 6, 2022, the United States DOJ announced its disabling of a botnet controlled by the Russian Federation.
A botnet is a network of computers infected with a computer virus — software designed for malicious intent. The venomous network is effectively used as an army for carrying out cyberattacks. The halted botnet was infected with Cyclops Blink which is a computer virus that infects firewall and router hardware — equipment used for propagating network data. It's plain as day that Russia has the technical capability to make good on its threats.
Who Is at Risk?
The US government is certainly at risk in cyberwarfare, but businesses are also. Moreover, with the advent of IoT or the internet of things — appliances and gadgets connected to the internet for enhancing day-to-day life — cybercrime is getting worse. Security vulnerabilities in IoT devices can be leveraged for use in cyberattacks including spying on average tech users.
Any computer — regardless of the type — including IoT gadgets, have the potential to become infected with malicious software. When enough computers become infected and become part of a botnet, it is used by cybercriminals for targeting specific entities. Technically, anybody with an internet connection can suffer from a cyberattack. Higher-profile organizations, however, tend to suffer from attacks carried out by hijacked networks.
Types of Threats
Devices infected with viruses can perform different kinds of malicious functions. Sending spam, unsolicited electronic messages, is common. Moreover, if cybercriminals can infiltrate a computer server — which they often do — its legitimate functions can be modified and computers connected to it are more easily compromised.
There exists an entire universe of computer viruses along with strategies to propagate them. The techniques are not all cut and dried, however.
Perhaps the most common way computers are infected is when device owners are tricked by entities that pretend to be legitimate. Victims can be directed by unsolicited messages to install free software tainted with computer viruses. Frequently, even without the direction of unsolicited messages, computer users navigate to unfamiliar websites and download the same kind of software. The result is compromised systems.
Obtaining a basic understanding of computer security can make noteworthy differences. Aside from reading free internet articles, inexpensive books and other literature on the subject can be purchased. On Amazon, for example, searching "computer security" will yield several literature options, but make sure to get something as up-to-date as possible. When understood and implemented, DIY or do-it-yourself computer security will lower the risk of cybercrime.
Some types of threat mitigation, however, are better left to IT service providers. Different levels of protection can be obtained in addition to consulting. Whether obtained from books or professionals, security knowledge is a must.
The general public is bombarded with computer security terms through social media and news networks. Wrapping your head around them can be daunting. With the help of trained IT professionals and/or DIY learning, however, it can be harnessed.
Get in the Battle!
The threat of cyberwarfare, especially as it pertains to Vladimir Putin, is quite real. Computer usage continuity is important, but business continuity is crucial. Downtime in a business generally spells a loss in production and profit. So, at the very least acquire basic DIY training. For maximum security, however, consult professionals.
MSPs or managed service providers are a common entity to seek help from. They don't provide IT services in the usual sense. They're prepared to take over the management of entire computer networks and typically offer data preservation. Maintenance and computer-security management can be obtained along with the added bonus of not having to worry about data preservation.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Dan Martino