Increasing global unrest means that nation-state cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly common. These malicious activities are sponsored by governments and state actors to gain access to sensitive information or disrupt operations of other countries. As the geopolitical landscape continues to shift, so too do the reasons why these attacks happen, and the tactics state-sponsored actors use.
Over the years nation-state attacks have become more malicious in nature and objective. We expect to see nation-state attacks become more sophisticated, so much so that most people won’t even know that they’re happening.
A few factors that make today’s brand of state-sponsored attacks particularly effective are:
1. Cloud adoption
In our rush to digitization and implicit trust in cloud service providers, businesses have inadvertently put themselves in the crosshairs. State-sponsored attackers target a unique set of crown jewels, and they recognize that today many of the jewels they covet are stored in cloud services. As such, expect to see attacks on cloud service providers rise.
2. Strong funding
The Russia-Ukraine conflict has demonstrated how effective strategic attacks can be, particularly when critical infrastructure and core services are targeted. Adversary groups are well funded and have the resources, tools and teams they need to execute.
3. Attack surface expansion
Rapid cloud services adoption, hybrid work models, lax data governance, and deficient attack surface management have morphed the attack surface. Data duplication, proliferation, and sprawl mean that sensitive data lives everywhere. Unclassified and orphaned data is vulnerable and can be leveraged as an access point.
4. Broad denial and avoidance
Average businesses don't look at state-sponsored cybercrime seriously until it's widespread. Yet from a cost and damage perspective it's just as bad as the usual brand of cybercrime businesses regularly face. State-sponsored actors are effectively using non-obvious business targets as an inroad to larger strategic targets.