State-sponsored actors to launch more coordinated cyber attacks

The world will see more coordinated cyber operations by state-sponsored actors (APTs) working together and sharing a common goal to cause greater problems, a cyber security expert said Trustedreviews Middle East,

"It's an arms race between the defenders and the hackers. What happens is that defenders are getting better and lower hackers are being cut off, while people at the top are getting more and more sophisticated to do what they do, "said Evan Kohlmann, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer US Branch Business Risk Intelligence Company Flashpoint.

Mr. Kohlmann has 15 years of experience in the persecution of al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups and has been consulted, inter alia, for the US Department of Defense, the US Department of Justice, the Australian Federal Police and Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command.

"We're experiencing a new era of cowardly warfare at a very low cost, and that's hugely effective. Starting a cyberattack is also very cheap and hard to allocate, but extremely effective even if a Twitter account is hacked, "he said.

"The people who have the advantage are the state-sponsored groups. We will see an expansion of cowardly warfare using technology that is difficult to classify, "he said.

Moreover, the people who attack companies, countries and governments are not just hackers, they're also terrorists.

"Endangering activity by illegal actors and online communities can harm a company's business, stakeholders, employees and customers. That's why intelligence programs are critical to minimizing business risk, especially for cyber threat intelligence, fraud, insider threats, corporate and physical security, and third-party risk teams, "he said.

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Last year, Flashpoint analysts observed how Al Houthis' Iran-affiliated Al-Jouthis in Yemen increasingly used lethal, long-range drones and shifted their attacks to strategic soft targets, including key civilian infrastructures to improve operations.

APTs are becoming a strategic threat

Kohlmann said that hacktivists are selling the access to Scada, ICS (Industrial Control Infrastructure) and IoT systems from any country in the dark, and owners of these vulnerabilities can easily create a lot of critical infrastructure issues for a country.

Today, industrial control infrastructure is an important part of a country's growth and an important target for attackers.

Most of these systems are used in electricity infrastructure, water and sanitation systems, petroleum and natural gas, transportation, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paper and pulp, food and dispersion products (cars, aerospace, and long-lived) Goods).

"The technology used in drones and rockets is not only a threat to the government, but to everyone else as well. We do not know what kind of threat this is, "he said.

For the past 20 years, he has said that everyone is focusing on Al Qaeda and Daesh, and so on.

"Now we are seeing a shift to state-sponsored attacks because they have the technology they can provide to the terrorist groups, and that is much more effective. State-sponsored attacks are becoming a major strategic threat in the Middle East. It's not just the governments that have to worry, it's the companies too, "he said.

"The drones and cyberattacks all fit into a strategy we see in development. These people (state-sponsored actors) can kick-start strikes against their enemies in a cowardly and cost-effective manner, "he said.

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Aspire to economic sabotage, spying targets

In addition, Kohlmann said that most of these technologies are currently controlled by humans. However, if they are operated by automated units, how can you tell the machine to stop?

"What happens if a computer does not have the necessary prior knowledge and the instructions are no longer sufficient, is the result catastrophic? People can make complex judgments about situations they have not encountered before and do not understand, "he said.

China, North Korea, Russia, Iran and, to a degree, Syria are leaders in government-sponsored attacks.

"These groups pursue goals that have nothing to do with international security and pursue economic sabotage and espionage targets. These APTs are operated by humans and some of them are individuals recruited for this mission because of their unusual abilities and not because of their external identity.

"It's difficult to predict and predict what someone will do, and it's usually noticed when they happen or happen," he said.

He also said that cyber attacks, which used to target government agencies and large companies over ransomware, will target small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have never heard of it, with security breaches costing thousands of dollars and never being uncovered ,

"SMEs think that a firewall is enough, but that's a mistake, especially considering the ransomware attacks. They are easy goals and money to earn and an easy way to demolish them, "he said.

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