Russian state-backed hacking

News / Russian state-backed hacking

Russian state-backed hacking

Russian state-backed hackers are having great success at breaching targets due to making government organisations the primary focus of their attacks. Russia is accountable for the most state-sponsored hacking detected by Microsoft this past year, 58% of these hacks carried out were Russian hackers doing. Ukraine comes second, followed by Britain and other European NATO members. 

Microsoft’s report has also cited ransomware as a continuously growing and serious threat, with the U.S. being by far the most targeted country; with over triple the amount of attacks than the next most targeted nation. By contrast however state-backed hacking is about intelligence gathering rather than being financially motivated thus it is tolerated by governments, with U.S. cyber operatives among the most skilled. Nation-state hacking has an overall success rate of around 10-20%.   

The long undetected SolarWinds Hack, which mainly breached IT businesses including Microsoft, also boosted Russian hackers' success rate to 32 % by 30th June, compared with 21% in the twelve months prior. Due to the embarrassment surrounding the incident, some Washington lawmakers demanded some form of retaliation. President Biden has had a tough time drawing the line when it comes to what sort of cyber activity is permissible. Whilst Biden has issued vague warnings to Russia's President Putin about cracking down on ransomware criminals, several cyber security officials have said they have seen no evidence of that. 

Only 4% of all state-sponsored hacking detected by Microsoft targeted critical infrastructure. Russian cyber operatives were found to be far less interested in it than Iranian or Chinese hackers. 

After the SolarWinds incident, the Russians turned their focus back to mostly government agencies involved in foreign policy, defence and national security, followed by think tanks then health care, where they targeted organisations developing and testing Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. 

Microsoft's report stated that Russia’s recent efficiency in their hacking efforts could be a warning sign that more high-impact compromises are ahead.

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