Barbados and other regional states are being warned to be on alert since they could become victims of collateral damage should the fears of Russia declaring cyber war on the US become a reality.
This warning has come from IT security professional Ricardo Martinez, Chief Revenue Officer with security consulting and solutions firm DigitalEra Group, who acknowledged that the US has been on high alert for Russian cyber attacks as the war in Ukraine continues.
The caution also comes on the heels of the Barbados Government being forced to shut down its information technology platform yesterday due to ransomware.
Martinez warned of the need for Government and businesses to change out archaic traditional systems for more up-to-date ones, and put a strong response plan in place.
“So the way to mitigate it and the recommendation, sort of how we have been advising our customers, first is that you need a response plan. It is critical that you know who to call. There are also organisations like ourselves who offer instant response retainers, so in the event you do get affected or attacked you can rely on organisations that can quickly act on those devices to make sure it does not keep propagating,” said Martinez.
“The other is leveraging next generation technology. Using traditional anti-virus which is reliant on signatures . . . that technology is archaic in this day and age because things move so quickly. So you have to leverage next generation technology that leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify malware that we don’t even know about today. Unfortunately a lot of organisations still maintain legacy systems or legacy technology that makes them vulnerable to threats like this,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Martinez, whose company provides solutions, carries out assessments, points out gaps and helps to develop cyber security solutions, explained that a ransomware attack means that “the adversary has been in your environment for a while”.
“The adversaries are actually looking at your environment, looking for your back-ups, so they usually stay in your environment for weeks, if not months, before they actually execute the ransomware,” he explained.
“If they execute it from day one they might encrypt two or three servers. It is very unlikely that person is actually going to pay the ransom. But if they are there and they actually delete the back-ups and they find one of the critical assets within the environment . . . they want to encrypt the servers that customer data is on and privilege information is on – and that is what organisations are willing to pay high dollar for,” he added.
As it relates to possible cyber attacks on the US, Martinez said it should not be of grave concern for the region at this point, but said the Caribbean could inadvertently be affected.
At the same time, Martinez said based on past experiences, the region could see some “collateral damage” and should therefore guard against such threats as the Russia-US cyber conflict could unintentionally affect other markets.
“Now it is out there other threat actors will take advantage of that and use it for their own purposes. It doesn’t mean we won’t necessarily get affected by it. I think what’s going to happen is that we will suffer collateral damage,” explained Martinez.
“I don’t think they are going to necessarily target our region but I do think they will target the US, its critical infrastructure, and that is why we are kind of on high alert. But I think our main concern would be a collateral damage of threat actors getting a hold of zero day attacks they didn’t know about that Russia is going to probably start using, and then repurposing it for their own creative ways of doing ransomwares or different types of attacks. That is kind of where I think that can affect us,” he added.
Martinez told Barbados TODAY every company and agency would be impacted by one form or cyber attack of another in their lifetime once they are connected to the internet.
“Whether it is phishing attack or you probably get text messages constantly that are nonsense but there are links on them that if you click on them it can take over your device, so pretty much everybody has been affected in some way or another,” he said. [email protected]