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How The Russia-Ukraine Cyber War Affects Vaughan Enterprises

Experts anticipate a series of Russian-based cyber attacks against western targets in the coming months. Do you know how this will affect your Vaughan business?

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, cyber warfare has been on the rise.

On Feb. 15, Ukraine suffered a major cyberattack on its governmental and banking systems, and subsequent attacks against western targets have occurred over the past few weeks.

Do you know how to defend your Vaughan business against these attacks?

Russia Ukraine Cyberwarfare

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Russia Cyber Attacks Could Target Vaughan Businesses

The recent aggression against Ukraine is a textbook example of cyberwarfare. Ukraine confirmed that the systems compromised in the attack are all critical ministry and banking targets:

  • Ministry of Defense website
  • Water distribution systems
  • Petroleum pipelines
  • Citizen banking systems

The attacks used Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks which flood the target website host with multiple data requests, resulting in lags and crashes. They also employed a form of malware similar to ransomware, but instead of encrypting the data, it simply deletes it.

Should Vaughan Businesses Owners Be Concerned About Russian Cyber Attacks?

While there’s no need to panic, you need to recognize the likelihood of Russian-based cyberattacks against the western world. It’s never been more critical for everyone to remain vigilant, both as private citizens and as employees and owners in Vaughan.

Remember the Colonial Pipeline incident from last year? This ransomware attack resulted in a widespread shortage of gas across the country. The encryption of the petroleum supplier’s systems forced them to shut down operations for several days, highlighting the vulnerability of critical US infrastructure to cybercrime attacks.

This is precisely the attack that Russian-backed hacking groups could launch against Canadian infrastructure and government targets. However, they’re just as likely to target private businesses.

The idea is that by causing chaos at the citizen level (disrupting their access to utilities, finances, and work), a target country will be much less organized and consider appeasement (whether that’s Ukraine seeding land or Canada ending sanctions).

That’s why you need to take action right now to address any potential vulnerabilities in your cybersecurity posture. By implementing a few basic measures, you can mitigate the most potential attack vectors.

10 Ways To Boost Your Vaughan Business’ Cybersecurity

  1. Use A VPN: When you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), your data is encrypted or hidden as it moves from your device to the VPN and then continues onto the Internet through an exit node. That makes it harder for an attacker to identify you as the data source—whether you’re on your mobile device’s data connection or using an unsecured retail Wi-Fi network while in line for coffee.
  2. Be Careful Where You Click: Fake URLs are a popular tool for cybercriminals, even those operating out of Russia. Before clicking it, always be sure to hover your mouse over a link in an email or on an unfamiliar website. That allows you to see where it leads. While it may look harmless, the URL may show otherwise. Always look and rarely click.
  3. Protect Your Personal Information: Always double-check what you may be sharing on social media. With the wrong security settings, anyone can see what you post, including personal information that may make it easier for them to guess your passwords, answer your security questions, and pose as you online.
  4. MFA: Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a great way to add an extra layer of protection to the existing system and account logins. By requiring a second piece of information like a randomly-generated numerical code sent by text message, you can ensure that the person using the login credentials is actually whom they say they are. Ensure you have MFA enabled on every possible account—remote users, email, VPNs, password managers, etc.
  5. Patch & Update Your Systems: Patch management is a simple yet critical part of effective cybersecurity. If a software provider releases a security patch, it’s not something owners, and managers can wait to address—it needs to be installed right away to ensure systems aren’t vulnerable to a cybercrime attack.  Make sure to apply patches to your operating systems, web browsers, line of business apps, and anywhere else they may be available.
  6. Manage Strong Passwords: Don’t let a simple password be why your Vaughan business gets hacked. Keep the following in mind:
    • Password Strength: It’s expected that passwords are required to include uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.  Consider using a passphrase—which is when you combine multiple words into one long string of characters—instead of a password. The extra length of a passphrase makes it harder to crack.
    • Password Managers: These programs store all of your passwords in one place, sometimes called a vault. Some programs can even make strong passwords for you and keep track of them all in one location, so then the only password or passphrase you have to remember is the one for your vault.
  7. Backup Your Most Important Files Right Now: Make sure you have at least one full backup of all your data set aside. Update it daily, and perform regular tests to ensure you can access your backup and that it is complete.
  8. Be Careful With Public Wifi: It’s important to use discretion when determining whether a free Wi-Fi hotspot is worth the risk. Keep these tips in mind when considering the dangers of unsecured Wi-Fi:
    • Avoid accessing sensitive info when using public Wi-Fi, such as online banking, shopping, etc.
    • Set your smartphone up with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that encrypts your data to keep it safe from hackers.
    • Configure your smartphone so that it doesn’t automatically connect to open Wi-Fi hotspots.
    • Keep your Bluetooth function turned off unless you’re using it with another device.
    • Invest in a larger data plan to you don’t have to rely on public Wi-Fi.
  9. Be Careful About What You Download: One of the primary ways cybercriminals take advantage of users is to trick them into downloading malware.  You need to train yourself to act cautiously to avoid downloading malware. It’s about thinking before you click something—never download a file, whether online or as an attachment from an email, if you’re unsure of the source. It’s always better to check with the sender to confirm before downloading or opening a suspect file.
  10. Stay Vigilant: You need to pay attention to developments in cybercrime. If you don’t know how cybercriminals operate, how can you expect to stay ahead? Make sure your IT company is helping you do so.

Don’t Let Russia Cybercriminals Hack Your Vaughan Business.

Given how complicated cybersecurity is, the last thing a business owner should do is try to handle it independently, especially right now during a significant cyberwar.

Unless you have the resources necessary to invest in proven cybersecurity expertise on your staff, you won’t be able to defend business data from modern cybercrime methodologies effectively.

We can help Vaughan business leaders develop a resilient cybersecurity posture for their organizations. Get in touch with the Tektonic team for support in improving cybersecurity.

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