Impact of Ukraine-Russia war: Cybersecurity has improved for all

A review and high-level analysis of the cyberattacks that Russia has
employed during their conflict with the Ukraine. Although there have been some successful
attacks that erased data, degraded communications and stole/erased information,
the total effect has fallen short of the expected consequences. In fact, the
lesson learned from helping strengthen the Ukraine’s cyber defenses and mitigating
the successful intrusions are contributing to the development of strategies and
intelligence to defend European and US networks.

Previous Russian attacks in 2015 and 2016 disrupted power grids and infected
tax software prepped the country for what it could expect in this conflict.
This spurred increased communication and cooperation between government and
software vendors such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft which resulted in a rapid
response to attacks and sharing of information.

New exploits such as the ViaSat satellite communication hack were successful in disrupting all manner of operations in the Ukraine and later across Europe. Russia also managed to disrupt command and control of drones after strike footage on Russian forces went viral. That attack was recently announced by Google, but the company did not disclose the means that enabled the hack. Russia cyber strategy seem to center around cutting fiber lines and knocking down cell towers to deny easy access to cyberspace and herd the traffic onto more favorable cyber terrain for Russia. To counter that method, broader and more secure space cyber links will become necessary in the future. Starlink, stepped in to fill ease the data strain, but that only exposed a system that was not designed for nation-state level attention and limited how much exposure the company was willing to bear.

A thorough analysis of the strategy and tactics employed during the conflict will provide plenty of fodder for war games, table top exercise and white papers to help prepare the US for its entry into full scale cyber conflict.

Source: 25 February 2023