Many malicious actors are taking advantage of current fears surrounding nation state cyberattacks by crafting phishing emails and other cybersecurity threats that trick users into thinking a hacker from Russia is trying to gain access to their network. These fears are generally well founded because nation states have been known to attack small and large businesses alike if it means they can get their hands on information they want. State sponsored cybercrime will affect businesses of varying sizes in different ways and knowing what to expect can help company employees be more prepared to handle nation state themed cyberattacks.
Who do Nation State Hackers Target?
Cybercriminals associated with a nation state will, of course, target government entities in an attempt to steal sensitive information or disrupt the activities of that government agency. In particular, these cybercriminals will attack cyber defense assets, but enterprise level businesses are also a large target. Many threat groups aim to steal intellectual property or important information that could benefit their country’s position on the global stage. Critical US infrastructure has also historically been a target for nation state actors as they seek to disrupt supply chains, halt the movement of important resources like gas or water, and steal information that could be used for more devastating attacks later.
This does not mean that small businesses are safe, however, because nation state threat groups will quickly target a contractor, sub-contractor, or a smaller entity that is associated with a larger target and begin their attack there. They do this because that smaller entity could give them access to the target they want. These cybercriminals will often have an interest in targets such as IT companies, manufacturing operations, and financial services.
How Nation State Attacks Affect Businesses
It is important to remember that nation state cybercrime does not need to directly target a business to affect it. This is because as these groups work, their activities will have ripple affects for other, smaller malicious actors to take advantage of. For example, as state sponsored cybercriminals steal information with phishing and ransomware attacks, the data they steal could end up on the dark web for other cybercriminals to buy. The threat groups also purchase tools and resources from dark web vendors, creating a demand for more sophisticated tools used to commit cybercrime.
Because one small business could give a group the access they need to a larger target, nation state hackers benefit heavily from dark web sites that sell company credentials and other information. This demand for sensitive material heavily incentivizes bad actors to steal information just to put it up for sale, and a lot of small businesses will get caught in phishing campaigns as a result.
One of the greatest threats that nation state cybercrime creates for your business is the fear and panic that malicious actors take advantage of for their own campaigns. While it is possible that a malicious actor backed by a foreign government could target your business, it is more likely that a group posing as a nation state hacker is trying to make employees panic and hand over their credentials. No matter who the hacker is, however, our team here at Robinett Consulting wants to equip you with the information and resources necessary to best secure your IT environment and keep all the malicious actors out.