The Colonial Pipeline attack should serve as a wake-up call to those out there that needed one .
shut down was caused by what appears to have been a private party . Typically , cyber warfare tactics such as targeting infrastructure was the realm of nation state actors . An act of aggression not unlike previous ‘ pre-Internet ’ tactics , and one which would ultimately be traceable to the perpetrator .
This situation punctuates an upward trend in the number of private parties targeting public infrastructure in ransomware attacks . These attacks , which hold information or systems hostage until a sum of money is paid , are growing in complexity , sophistication and frequency globally . In the UK , ransomware attacks surged 80 % in just three months following the start of the pandemic .
While it was only a matter of time until ‘ outsourcing ’ came to the cybercrime business , the success of Ransomwareas-a-Service ( RaaS ) providers against infrastructure targets is sure to spur imitators and competition . The newfound ability for individuals to seriously impact critical supplies for personal profit is certainly troubling and opens our ageing infrastructure to an even wider pool of threats .
State-sponsored offenses hide behind mercenary groups
However , the rise in skills of these cyber mercenary groups may highlight an even greater long-term risk to all infrastructure . Numerous reports – including BlackBerry ’ s BAHAMUT : Hack-for-Hire Masters of Phishing , Fake News , and Fake Apps – show that mercenary groups offering APT-style attacks are becoming more readily available . The Tactics , Techniques and Procedures ( TTPs ) used in these attacks are beginning to resemble the highly sophisticated state-sponsored campaigns . This means the profile and geography of potential victims has diversified exponentially . And these victims will become increasingly ‘ random ’ or illogical when analysed for any commonality .
This lack of commonality will also make it harder to identify when nation states are actually behind attacks , as their fingerprints will be largely removed .
Interestingly too , the interconnectedness of the UK ’ s infrastructure is starting to provide an asymmetric advantage for some nations we traditionally classify as hostile . North Korea , for instance , hasn ’ t had the resources to upgrade their infrastructures like the much of the west .
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