COLUMN: Cybersecurity Protocols to Consider in Times of Global Conflict

A soldier assists in counter-terrorism operations in eastern Ukraine in this April 2015 photo by Noah Brooks via flickr.

Amid growing struggles between Ukraine and Russia, new concerns about cybersecurity have emerged. The rapidly evolving conflict has left security teams at companies thousands of miles away studying their network logs and sifting through a flood of threat intelligence from Ukrainian authorities, US officials, cybersecurity experts and researchers. . Some companies have responded by more aggressively monitoring their computer systems, whether or not they have operations in the region.

US federal agencies engaged this week with businesses in the United States to help them prepare for the possibility of targeted cyberattacks.

But what does this mean for individual businesses? Most of the time, companies should continue with their usual cybersecurity measures and initiatives – patching and updating systems, performing regular security scans, etc.

There are, however, some special circumstances that companies should take into consideration, as follows:

Companies with technology or data in Ukraine or the surrounding region

Businesses should verify their exposure to increased cyber threats in the region by ensuring that they are aware of endpoints (personal computers), servers, and network devices in the region. Where possible, data should be moved to other regional servers. During times of cyber warfare, even entities that are not targeted may experience collateral problems due to increased activity.

Companies considered essential to the infrastructure of the United States or suppliers of these companies

The Department of Homeland Security has 16 industries that it designates as “critical to the infrastructure of the United States”. These industries include critical manufacturing, commercial facilities, and healthcare: https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors

We participate in the DHS coordination committee for critical manufacturing. Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, DHS has been sharing and asking companies for information about any significant abnormal network activity. If your business falls into one of these 16 categories, you can also contact DHS for ongoing updates.

Companies with little or no cybersecurity protection

If you are a very small business or have not yet taken cybersecurity measures, this may put you at a higher risk of being targeted in all circumstances, but especially in a more threatening environment. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has also launched an initiative called Shields Up, which provides free, practical resources to improve your cybersecurity posture: https://www.cisa.gov/shields-up

All companies with outdated devices containing proprietary data

Regardless of your business situation, protecting the data stored on end-of-life devices is more important than ever. Too few companies pay attention to the data storage technologies they use and what happens to those technologies at the end of their life. For environmental, regulatory and sustainability reasons, these devices should be recycled responsibly. When this happens, part of the process should always include complete physical destruction of the data. Guaranteed destruction of data is essential. Some companies think their data is erased when they drop off devices for recycling, which isn’t always the case. Moreover, the unethical and illegal shipping of e-waste overseas has become an additional layer to the hardware security problem, as it leads to the complete liquidation of our national security and the privacy of businesses and individuals in the United States. Recycling these devices is important, but it has to be done the right way. Make sure your e-waste recycler is NAID accredited.


Kate Fazzini is CEO of Flore Albo LLCassistant professor of cybersecurity at Georgetown University, author of Kingdom of Lies: confusing adventures in the world of cybercrime and was a cybersecurity reporter for the Wall Street Journal and CNBC.

John Shegerian is co-founder and CEO of ERI, the nation’s first fully integrated computer and electronic asset destruction provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company. Business Journal readers can visit eridirect.com/insecurity-of-everything-book/ to receive a free copy of John’s new book, The insecurity of everything.


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