State-Sponsored Attacks and What They Mean for Your Business

State-sponsored attacks (SSA) are carried out by cyber criminals directly linked to a nation-state. Their goals are threefold:

  • Identify and exploit national infrastructure vulnerabilities.
  • Gather intelligence.
  • Exploit systems and people for money.

One might think that one nation after another would leave businesses alone and attack each other. However, directly hacking a government or military system is significantly more complex, requires more resources, and, if detected, could be treated as an act of war.

Therefore, the unlucky man in the middle is the poorly defended business that can serve as a port for SSA to gain a foothold in their target country. Not all companies need to worry, but some should treat SSA as a severe potential threat.

Businesses Targeted for SSA

  • Public services and utilities
  • Companies with active government contracts
  • Local government entities
  • High-value companies
  • Businesses known to handle sensitive information
  • Organizations that could suffer significantly from the impact of IT downtime
  • Companies with offices or operations in a potentially volatile region

These organizations, in particular, must prepare themselves for the possibility of a highly sophisticated, targeted, and well-funded attack.

Firstly, the fundamentals should be in place, including antivirus, patch management, encryption, backup, disaster recovery plan, and more.

Secondly, organizations should embed security awareness in the company culture by performing regular phishing assessments and social engineering training: the fewer human vulnerabilities, the fewer entry points into your systems.

Third, organizations should isolate critical IT systems and sensitive data stores from the internet and the general intranet. This added layer of security makes it considerably more difficult for attackers to steal information or disrupt operations.

Fourth, evaluate your technology supply chain for current hardware and software vulnerabilities. Conducting an audit will provide insight into potential backdoors for malicious actors. It isn’t paranoia; it’s risk management.

Fifth, stay active in the community (see for examples) to learn about relevant threats. Likewise, share what you know and help build a more robust culture of industry awareness.

And sixth, secure communication channels. Whether voice, video, email, or text, having at least one fully secure channel you can rely on is critical to prevent outside monitoring.


Securing Your Business Against State-sponsored Attacks

While not everyone will fall under the malicious gaze of state-sponsored attacks, some inevitably will, and they’ll pay dearly for lax security measures and believing “it won’t happen to me.” To spare your organization from espionage, intellectual property theft, and politically motivated attacks, stay abreast of new threats, maintain basic security measures, segregate essential systems and data, and integrate security awareness into your company culture. Contact Securance today for a free consultation on how to best prepare your business for state-sponsored attacks.