When Russia invaded the Ukraine in February 2022 many cyber security analysts were expecting a series of computer attacks upon the Ukrainian systems from the work of hackers that have been sponsored by the Russian state. The expected disruptive effects, however, were not verified and the Ukraine seems to be holding up well to the cyber war attacks. In this post we will explain how the Geoblocking Europe system from FlashStart is helping the Ukrainian citizens to protect themselves against this threat.
1. Russia-Ukraine: a war on many levels
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia was accompanied by a series of attacks on a computer level. Just as an article from the BBC reports, a few hours before the invasion began, on the 24th February 2022, an attack by Russian hackers paralysed an American satellite that supported the Ukrainian army communication system.
The war between Russia and Ukraine is probably the first time that cyber attacks have represented a true and proper weapon in a conflict, assisting the two adversary governments alongside the traditional military operations on the ground as well as with international economic blocks.
The cyber attacks have been perpetrated by hackers, usually organized into groups, who work for this or that government. Their objective is to paralyse the communication systems to make it more difficult to co-ordinate forces or operations, they also aim at disrupting essential services on governance, financial and principal infrastructure levels. For this reason, the hackers’ targets are not only the governments of the two declared adversaries but also all the other third parties who, in a direct or indirect manner, make actions (military or even economic or diplomatic) that influence the battlefield.
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2. The strategies for defending yourself from computer attacks
Defending yourself against these groups has become one of the main priorities on the political agendas of all governments, and not only. Companies and organizations are also busy, often with a huge number of resources dedicated, preventing cyber attacks by saving their systems and guaranteeing their work.
But what are the most effective strategies? The answer varies from expert to expert and the diversity of the users adds yet another variation element. There are though a few cardinal points on which the best part of the experts tend to agree on:
» A good protection foresees the use of various instruments. Today’s market offers an ample choice of instruments to face up to cyber security problems. From the traditional systems that are based around hardware there is today the addition, often substituting, of those based on software. We are talking about programs that block dangerous content such as the DNS web filter by FlashStart that, with its characteristics, is today one of the most preferred solutions for filtering DNS malware and undesired content.
» Protection alone however is not enough: you also need to prevent. Today prevention above all passes through awareness. The major part of cyber attacks, in fact, are completed thanks to human error, from the distraction of the user who, unknowingly, clicks on a link that activates the attack. For this reason, the formation of the users remains an essential phase for any cyber security strategy.
» Finally, in a panorama that is in continual fast-moving change, collaboration has become one of the fundamental roles. In this case we are talking about high level collaboration, therefore government or inter-government, with transnational teams working together to highlight new threats, uncover malware that has already infested itself in computer systems, strengthening the response capabilities against attacks.
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3. US Cyber Force: collaboration for computer security
It is exactly through collaborations that, at the beginning of December 2021, the United States sent their US Cyber National Mission Force – better known as US Cyber Force – to Ukraine to collaborate with the local government to see if Russia had already started to infiltrate the Ukrainian computer systems.
From 2018 the US Cyber Force has collaborated with various allies in Europe, the Mid Orient and Indo-Pacific region to fight hackers’ that are supported by states such as China, North Korea and, precisely, Russia. It is a force that is invited by governments who fear they have had important cyber security issues but themselves still do not have an internal squad who are specialised enough or even have up to date resources to try and understand the gravity of the problems and try to resolve them.
This squad often works secretly, in such that they are invited by a foreign government to dig deeply into their computer systems that in itself is a delicate matter and, sometimes, controversial. As the BBC reported , straight after the Russian invasion of Ukraine at least two other countries on the old continent asked the US Cyber Force for interventions, Lithuania and Croatia.
3.1 The Ukrainian experience
In Ukraine the US Cyber Force has witnessed a series of hacker attacks known as “wiper software”, attacks that render computers useless. More precisely, in January Russia made various attacks of this type, amongst which one on the Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which a message read: “Be afraid and expect the worst”. The objective of these attacks was to destabilise the Country even before the invasion in February.
The collaboration with the Cyber Force, removed from the Ukraine just a few hours before the invasion occurred, has allowed the Ukrainian state to reinforce their defences against Russian cyber attacks and be better prepared to confront the threats of a cyber war.
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4. FlashStart: the contribution against malware and undesired content
The example of the US Cyber Force is a good example of a transnational collaboration on a cyber security theme, not everybody however has the possibility of requesting the intervention of a military force against malware and undesired content. Given the above list of strategies applicable, there remains points 1 and 2. Let’s concentrate for a moment on the instruments available for companies and organizations for protecting their networks against hacker attacks and, in particular, on the web content filter offered by FlashStart, the European company with clients in every continent.
FlashStart offers a DNS content filter with specific functions for protecting company and organisations networks from malware, botnet and other types of attacks. What makes FlashStart the ideal solution for your company? Here are three great reasons:
» Cloud and system: the web content filter system by FlashStart is totally cloud based, making it very tempting on today’s panorama made of digitalisation fluidity in its accesses. Also, it can be installed at the router level, guaranteeing the coverage of all the equipment connected on the network, or even on a singular equipment level, through the ClientShield application, protecting the navigation even when outside of the company network.
» Continuous updates: FlashStart uses a mixture of Artificial Intelligence and Learning Machine to daily scan the web looking for new threats. Learn more about the FlashStart Artificial Intelligence by clicking here.
» Ample customizable possibilities: whilst the dangerous content is automatically blocked by the system, FlashStart allows the network administrator to decide what ever else they wish to block. To help this decision FlashStart has organised all the catalogued sites in thematic groups attributable in three large micro-categories, dangerous content, undesired and distraction creating.
>> On any Router and Firewall you can activate the geoblock software from FlashStart® Cloud for putting your desktop and mobile devices in full security as well as the IoT devices on your local networks.
5. Geoblocking Europe: blocking content from dangerous countries
But the thematic groups cited above are not the only personalisation that FlashStart has thought of. In fact, the company has dedicated particular attention on the factor analysis of cyber risks and have developed a system for systematically blocking all the content coming out of specific high-risk countries on the cyber security point of view.
We are talking about Geoblocking, or Geoblocking Europe, with functionalities that are born out of the commercial sector that FlashStart have included in that of cyber security. The primary objective of the geographical blockage is that of guaranteeing the copyright protection as well as distribution rights by avoiding the transmission of determined content in specific countries. Above all video content, in fact YouTube and Netflix use it.
On a computer security level FlashStart have adapted the geoblock software to block those sites that are physically hosted in Countries that are known to have a high tax of cyber criminalisation. It is down to the administrator to decide whether to block or not entire countries or, why not, entire groups of countries, by using the FlashStart dashboard.
In this way, companies or organizations can have the certainty that their users will not end up, even by mistake, navigating dangerous and unknown sites, traceable, for example, to Russia, China or North Korea. Learn more about Geoblocking Europe by reading our recent article that is available here.
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You can activate the FlashStart® Cloud protection on any sort of Router and Firewall to secure desktop and mobile devices and IoT devices on local networks.