The war on cyber: Ukraine continues to battle digital hacks

Cisco Talos uncover threat actors targeting government entities & organisations in Ukraine and Poland, indicating a need for continued global cybersecurity

Cisco Talos recently discovered a threat actor conducting several campaigns against government entities, military organisations and civilian users in Ukraine and Poland. 

The company has judged that these operations have been aimed at stealing information and gaining persistent remote access. It analysed that this type of activity has been occurring as early as April 2022 and as recently as July 2023, highlighting a persistent bad actor.

From taking down bot farms, to preventing the spread of misinformation, these cyber attacks are an example of how cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated and are capable of using new technologies to obtain sensitive information.

Bad actors and the need for tough cybersecurity measures

Attacks used a multistage infection chain with malicious Microsoft Office documents using Excel and PowerPoint file formats. The reason detection was more difficult is that it also had an executable downloader and payload concealed in an image file.

According to Cisco Talos, the hack is seemingly targeting Ukrainian and Polish government and military targets as lures were contained within the files. The purpose of these lures is to convince the targeted users to enable macros, as stated by Cisco Talos, ultimately allowing the hack to commence.

These types of cyber attacks are nothing new, with businesses and government organisations. This update has come at a time of mass cyber insecurity, as many reports are being released detailing how cyber attacks have become increasingly more sophisticated,citing wider concerns about cyber threats and the warfare on digital security systems.

Ransomware attacks in particular have also exploded in 2023, with an increase of 60% having been reported earlier in the year.

Plenty of big technology companies have come to the aid of Ukraine. The Financial Times reported that Cisco Talos, as well as Microsoft and Dragos, have all taken on contracts to help the country keep its digital assets safe. Last year, Microsoft technicians noticed a single computer behaving oddly in Ukraine and alerted engineers in the Kyiv suburb, ultimately preventing a cyber attack.

Cisco Talos has also provided resources in its reports to advise how to best protect against these types of cyber attacks, including implementing two-factor authentication and conducting regular security audits.

This situation also highlights the need for governments to collaborate in discussions to further curb the use of malware and digital technologies that can exploit systems. The UN in particular has already held a formal discussion on AI and its impact on global businesses and governments, stressing the need for further regulations. 

These types of measures can be taken across all industries to reduce risk and ensure that digital platforms are safe for use.


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