Survey: Risk of Nation-State Cyber Attacks Is on the Rise

Hybrid warfare. You’ve probably heard of that term by now, if not, you’re very likely to hear about it very soon. This is because according to a Tripwire survey, more nation-state cyber attacks are expected to happen over the next 12 months.

What is Hybrid Warfare?

The newly popular term describes an attack strategy that combines various forms of conventional and unconventional warfare – military, political, etc – including cyberwarfare. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must have heard of Russia’s supposed attempt to influence the latest US presidential elections. Russia is accused of having used bots to sway public opinion along with phishing scams and hacking to steal data from the nominees’ campaigns.

Tripwire surveyed 416 individuals at Infosecurity Europe 2018 and the vast majority of respondents said that they were anticipating more nation-state attacks over the next 12 months. Their predictions come in tandem with rising geopolitical tensions around the globe.

The Grim Picture

Among the surveyed attendees a crushing majority or 93% said that they believed that ‘more trouble is on the way.

83% said that they believe that nation-states will grow their attacks beyond government entities to target non-governmental organizations over the next year.

83% also said that attacks from nation-states will intentionally focus on critical infrastructure – with the energy sector being targeted in particular- which portends severe damages and the disruption of the functioning of many public institutions.

In the opening keynote, Robert Hannigan, the former Director General of GCHQ, the UK’s largest intelligence and cyber agency, had this to say:

“Five years ago, we were aware of nation-state attacks but we would’ve seen them as something that only a nation-state needs to worry about. Today they’re a problem for everybody, as we’ve seen over the last year.”

Some Good News

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as 69% of respondents pointed out that their organizations have been increasing their efforts to defend against nation-state attacks over the past 12 months.

The same percentage said that knowing who the attackers were is very helpful in defending against the attack. We also have to note that attackers typically try to trick defenders on their identity as some respondents pointed out.

Finally, respondents displayed a fair amount of confidence going forward, with 60% saying that they feel fairly prepared, 22% saying that they are very prepared, and only 18% admitting that they are not prepared.