10 Worst Offending Countries In The Global Cyber Warfare
Updated on: 20/05/2022
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Usually, when you think about war, the first thing that comes to your mind is guns firing and bomb blasting left, right and center, nuclear warfare and even worse. While it cannot be disagreed that these are all definitely various types of warfares, a new one is on the rise. Unbelievably, it is even bigger than 9/11. Yes, you guessed it right! We are talking about cyber warfare that one can involve in destroying another digitally and remotely.
In this article, we will clear your concept about digital warfare, what the various types are, some of the well-publicized examples of recent times, and the top 10 list of the offending countries involved in the global cyber warfare. Additionally, we will also state the mitigation procedure that will be even more beneficial.
Table of Contents
What Is Cyber Warfare?
Usually, cyber warfare is defined as a single cyber attack or a series of cyberattacks targeting a country. It possesses the potential to bring havoc on the government as well as the civilian infrastructure. It disrupts the critical systems resulting in the damage to the state and moreover can even cause death.
However, there is a strong debate amongst the cybersecurity experts regarding the kind of activity constituting the digital warfare. The US Department of Defense (DoD) has recognized the threat to national security posed by the malevolent use of the internet but fails to offer a clearer definition for the same. Some consider warfare through cyberspace to be a cyber attack that can result in life loss.
Typically it involves a nation-state committing the cyberattacks on the others. But in some cases, these attacks are carried out by the terrorist organizations or the non-state actors that further seeks to see themselves as a hostile nation. There have been several examples of the alleged cyber warfare in the latest history, however, it lacks the universal, formal definition of how any cyber attack might constitute an act of war.
What Are The 7 Types Of Cyber Warfare Attacks?
Here is the list of seven main types of cyber warfare attacks:
1. Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks
The DoS attacks restrict the legitimate users from accessing a website by causing a flood of requests that are completely fake. It forces the websites to handle the fake requests. These kinds of attacks are used to disrupt the critical operations and systems as well as block the access to the sensitive websites by the military, civilians and the security personnel or research organizations.
2. Economic Disruption
The contemporary economic systems operate utilizing the computers. The attackers might target the computer networks of the various economic establishments like the payment systems, stock markets and banks to either steal money or block people from having any access to the funds that they might require.
3. Electrical Power Grid
Attacking the power grid permits the attackers to disable all the crucial systems, disrupt the infrastructure and potentially result in bodily harm. Attacks on the power grid might also disrupt the communications and thereby render services such as the text messages and communications usable.
Espionage refers to monitoring the other countries with the intention to steal their vital information. In cyber warfare, espionage might involve using spear phishing attacks or botnets for compromising the sensitive computer systems before exfiltration of the sensitive information.
5. Propaganda Attacks
These attacks attempt to control the minds as well as thoughts of the people who are living in or fighting for a target country. Propaganda can also be used to expose embarrassing truths, spread lies and make people lose trust in their country. It might also instigate the people to join with the enemies.
The government organizations are required to determine the sensitive information and the risks in case it is compromised. The hostile governments or the terrorists might steal information, leverage insider threats like the dissatisfied or careless employees, or the government employees with the affiliation to the attacking countries, or destroyu the stolen information as a whole.
7. Surprise Attacks
These attacks are equivalent to the physical attacks like the 9/11 or Pearl Harbor but in cyberspace. The major objective of these attacks is to carry out a destructive attack that the enemy is not anticipating at the moment. This permits the attackers to weaken their defenses. This might be carried out in the bid to prepare the ground for a physical attack in the context of hybrid warfare.
5 Prominent Examples Of The Cyber Warfare Operations
It is obvious that at this point you might want to be eager to know what are the well-publicized cyber warfare examples in recent times. So, here is presenting you the top five most dangerous cyber warfare operations till date.
1. Bronze Soldier
Back in 2007, Estonia had relocated a statue that was associated with the Soviet Union, the Bronze Soldier, from the center of its capital Tallinn to a military cemetery near the city. The country, Estonia, had suffered from a significant number of attacks in cyberspace in the following months. The Estonian media outlets, government websites and banks had been overloaded with traffic in the massive DDoS or Denial-of-Service attacks. Consequently, all of these websites have been taken down.
2. Enemies of Qatar
An American Republican fundraiser named Elliott Broidy had sued the government of Qatar back in 2018. He accused the Qatar government of stealing and leaking his emails attempting to discredit him. The Qataris had then seen him as an obstacle to improving their standing in Washington.
As per the lawsuit, the brother of the Qatari Emir had been alleged to have orchestrated a cyber warfare campaign, along with the others in the Qatari leadership. The same attackers had targeted 1,200 people where many of these have been known as the “enemies of Qatar”. This included the senior officials from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
3. Fancy Bear
Crowdstrike has claimed that the Russian organized cybercrime group named Fancy Bear had targeted the Ukrainian rocket forces and artillery between the years 2014 and 2016. The malware had been spread via an android system that was infected by the D-30 Howitzer artillery unit for managing and targeting data.
The Ukrainian officers had made a wide use of the application or app that contained the X-Agent spyware. This has been considered to be a highly successful attack that resulted in the destruction of more than 80% of the D-30 Howitzers of Ukraine.
4. Sony Pictures Hack
Following the release of the film “The Interview'', an attack on Sony Pictures had taken place that presented a negative portrayal of Kim Jong Un. The attack has been assigned to the North Korean government hackers. The FBI had discovered similarities to the previous malware attacks by the North Koreans, including the encryption algorithms, code and data deletion mechanisms.
5. Stuxnet Virus
Stuxnet was a worm that had attacked the Iranian nuclear program and is amongst the most sophisticated cyber attacks in the history of online malware attacks. The malware had spread through the infected Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices and had targeted the data acquisition as well as supervisory control systems. As per most reports, the attack had seriously damaged the ability of Iran to manufacture nuclear weapons.
List of The Top 10 Cyber Attack Offenders
Here is presenting you the most awaited list of the top 10 cyber attack offenders, the most common countries that are involved mostly in cyber warfare attacks and hacking.
In recent months, Russia became the most prominent place that originates the cyber attacks. There exists a fact that most of the Russian hackers are making use of the VPN or Virtual Private Network that helps them to bounce their location. Thus, it might be difficult to tell how many of the hackers are really from Russia. However, they originate upon tracing to Russia.
They are also considered to be one of the biggest cybersecurity hubs in the whole world. It has been seen that Russia possesses the largest black market that is worth approximately 2 billion dollars every year and also houses the most cybercrime groups.
On the 13th and 14th of January, 2022, after a breakdown of the diplomatic talks between Russia and the West owing to the Russian invasion on Ukraine, the hackers had launched defacement attacks. The attacks brought down dozens of Ukrainian government websites that included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Ministry of Education. Several other government websites also went offline. The hackers had even posted a message that read,
"Ukrainian! All your personal data was uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore it. All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future. For Volyn, for the OUN UPA, for Galicia, for Polissia and for historical lands."
Following this, the official information had appeared on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Education and Science. The message said,
"Due to the global attack on the night of January 13-14, 2022, the official website of the Ministry of Education and Science is temporarily down."
Not only this, after this several destructive malware had been spotted in the Ukrainian networks from time to time. Russia seems to be leading the charge when it comes to cyber warfare and cyber attacks.
China is another place where the cyberattacks have been happening quite often and they are also responsible for the state-sponsored hacking attempts that are approved by their government. They have also one of the largest technologically advanced military groups in the world. Although China comes in the second position, not by much when you are talking about the cyber attacks and cyber warfare China.
3. Eastern European Countries
Cyber warfare mostly originates in the countries such as Ukraine and Bulgaria when you are considering these kinds of war by the Eastern European countries. These areas possess over 30 groups that are responsible for the organized crime and record DDoS attacks, apart from the constant ransomware attacks, botnets and malware.
Romania is considered to be the most popular country that targets the PoS or Point-of-Sale systems. They had been responsible for over $240 million in losses when they had attacked the financial banking systems in the current years. If you have undergone an unfortunate PoS attack lately, take it for granted that it was done by a hacker from Romania. It is however, not exactly a cyberwarfare thing but something that you need to be aware of.
Brazil has been one of the constant attackers in the cyber space while they are not at all afraid of hacking and scamming their own people. Usually, they make use of the tools from the Ukrainian attackers or the hacker teams but utilizes the Russian hacking programs for performing their malicious attacks on the people. Thus, if you are from Brazil and you get hacked, then you can give a thought of your fellow countrymen.
When we are talking about the scammers and the phishing emails, Nigeria grabs the cake. While they are also known for these schemes, they also possess the highest number of the unemployed yet genius-level hackers for spending a lot of time creating these fraudulent measures. The phishing attacks are often known to lead to cyber warfare and Nigeria aces it.
Since 2014, Vietnam has been gaining more and more popularity when the cyber attacks started to become more prominent. They are considered to be the leaders in stealing various personal information (PII) and then using it against the people by selling it on the black market. They are some of the biggest leaders in stealing various kinds of information such as those like the fake job scams that you might be commonly heard of or are aware of as well as the data mining personal records.
If you have ever happened to have found your personal information on dark net sites, then you might have been hacked by a Vietnamese hacker.
In 2014, over 35% of all the cyberattacks had originated in Indonesia and the country possesses the most botnets in the Southeast Asian area. Indonesia is considered to be the prime cyber warfare offender. Using botnets to attack can also lead to the massive DDoS cyber warfare attacks.
9. South Korea
South Korea had been displaying higher than normal levels of online criminal records and hacking nearly six years ago. They had been discovered as they make use of the old techniques and that is often employed for the online banking methods there. However, they mostly attack the United States. It has been found in the past that South Korea has cyber attacked the US news outlets and government websites.
10. United States
It has been found out that there has been more than the larger number of cyber attacks occurring right there in the United States in the recent months. It is around 50/50 between the data breaches that are caused by the cyber criminals and the remaining half that have been caused by the government itself on a daily basis ultimately causing US cyber warfare.
How Can You Combat Cyber Warfare?
The following are some of the many ways in which you can attempt to combat cyber warfare to some extent. However, you would require the help of professionals from the top cybersecurity firm who will offer you the proven techniques to effectively combat such critical situations.
Conducting Risk Assessments With The Cyber Wargames
The best method to assess the readiness of a nation for cyber warfare is to conduct a real-life exercise or simulation called the cyber wargame. It can test how the private organizations and governments are responding to a cyber warfare scenario, exposing the gaps and improving the cooperation between the entities. The vital thing is that a wargame can also aid the defenders to learn how to act as soon as possible in the bid to protect the critical infrastructure and thereby save lives.
The cyber wargames can additionally help the states, cities or the countries to improve readiness for warfare in the cyberspace by the following methods:
❂ Testing The Various Situations
Like the ones detecting attacks in the early stages or even mitigating the risks after critical infrastructure has already been compromised.
❂ Testing The Usual Scenarios
The cyber attacks are never conducted “by the book”. You need to establish a red team that will act as the attackers and attempt to locate creative ways to breach a targeted system and the defenders can learn how to mitigate the real threats.
❂ Division Of Labor & Cooperation Mechanisms
Cyber warfare seeks many individuals from the various organizations and government units for collaboration. Thus, a cyber wargame can combine all those people who might not know each other and also help them to decide how they can work together in the event of a crisis.
❂ Improving The Policies
The governments might establish cyber warfare policies but need to test them in practice. The cyber wargame thus can test the effectiveness of the policies and offer an opportunity for improving them.
Understanding The Importance of Layered Defense
Under the extreme pressure of cyber warfare, the governments of several countries have issued operational national security policies in order to protect their information infrastructure. Typically, these policies makes use of a layered defensive approach that includes the following:
❂ Securing the cyber ecosystem
❂ Raising awareness for cybersecurity
❂ Promoting open standards for combating cyber threats
❂ Implementing a national cybersecurity assurance framework
❂ Working with private organizations to improve their cybersecurity capabilities
Securing The Private Sector
A strategic factor in cyberwarfare is the flexibility of the local businesses to the cyber attacks. However, businesses need to tighten their security measures in order to diminish the advantages of an attack on a nation-state. Below mentioned is a set of measures for ensuring cybersecurity that can promote the national security:
❂ Create hurdles to breaching the network.
❂ Use the web application firewalls (WAF) to quickly detect, investigate, as well as block malicious traffic.
❂ Quickly respond to a data breach and restore the business operations.
❂ Facilitate cooperation between the public and the private sectors.
❂ Use local hackers as a resource to aid protect against the foreign cyber threats.
The global cyber warfare is a serious issue that most of the countries face these days and they are terrorized by the heavy damage that can be caused resulting in loss of data, money and even lives. The offending countries we have already discussed here have created and deployed the various maleficent malwares that have completely shut down the websites of the governmental as well as non-governmental organizations. There are various companies that help you with the protection of your data and your organization from such online attacks but you need to choose the best cybersecurity firm.