Americans Now At Higher Risk Of Russian Cyberattacks – Here’s What To Do

Americans are reportedly now facing an even higher risk of Russian cyberattacks amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to experts.

“We are seeing more and more nation-state activity due to the conflict in the Ukraine,” said Ryan Wright, a professor specializing in cybersecurity at the University of Virginia, via USA TODAY. “With US sanctions setting in, it is only a matter of time until the US is targeted more directly. This may mean attacks on your personal device through ransomware but also attacks on the infrastructure such as your Internet access or even the power grid.”

State-sponsored actors have participated in sophisticated cyberwarfare through SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline attacks over the past few years.

Russia may once again attempt similar tactics to disrupt American financial systems and important infrastructure in an effort to pressure the U.S. to abandon sanctions, Saryu Nayyar, CEO of security firm Gurucul, told USA TODAY.

Nayyar said it’s unlikely that cyber attackers would target Americans individually, but noted that “the reality is that any cyberattack can have repercussions on individuals,” which Kevin Novak, managing director of security firm Breakwater Solutions, told USA TODAY includes a wide-range of problems such as supply shortages at grocery stores caused by power outages.

“So while at the moment I do not believe that private US citizens should cower in fear over Russia’s capability of adversely impacting them via cyberattacks, it is reasonable to expect that their lives will be impacted in some ways by cyber retaliatory actions that result from US sanctions and other political maneuvering,” Novak said via USA TODAY.

Chris Olson, CEO of the digital safety platform The Media Trust, warned that consumers must “be aware that cyber actors can target them through almost any website or mobile application” amid the growing threat of cyberattacks.

Doug Jacobson, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Iowa State University, advised Americans to protect themselves by practicing cyber hygiene.

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) “Shields Up” campaign and several cybersecurity experts provided the following guidelines to practicing cyber hygiene via USA TODAY:

  • Turn on multifactor authentication
  • Update everything including software
  • Think before you click
  • Use strong, unique passwords
  • Don’t believe everything online
  • Back up important files now
  • Use a VPN on public internet
  • Stock up on emergency supplies

On Monday (February 28), Russian and Ukrainian officials reportedly met amid the ongoing conflict between the two neighboring countries following Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s decision to conduct military operations in and ensuing attack on Eastern Ukraine.

NBC News reports Ukraine said it planned to push for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops when the two sides met at the Belarussian border.

The talks took place as Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was under attack from Russian shelling and Kyiv, the country’s largest and capital city, continued to show strong resistance to attacks from Russia.

On Saturday, a senior U.S. Defense Department official told reporters that Ukraine’s resistance is stiffer than expected and Russians are increasingly frustrated by their lack of progress, specifically in the the capital city of Kyiv and Kharkiv.

At least 25 civilians and 137 soldiers were reportedly killed, while hundreds more were injured in Ukraine on the first day of Russia’s invasion.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed that the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine received reports of at least 25 civilians killed and more than 100 injured in connection to “shelling and air strikes” in a statement obtained by NBC News Friday (February 25) morning.

“This is more than the total number of civilian casualties recorded by the U.N. Human Rights Office on both sides of the contact line for the whole of 2021,” the statement read, noting that 25 people were killed and 85 injured in 2021.

The UN human rights office confirmed 114 of the 127 civilian casualties took place in Government-controlled areas such as the Donetsk, Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson and Luhansk regions.

“Because of the security situation, civilian casualties in Government-controlled territory are likely to be under-reported, and real figures, therefore, could be higher,” the office said via NBC News.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announced at least 137 soldiers were killed and 316 were injured on Thursday, according to preliminary figures, CNN reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country would conduct military operations in Eastern Ukraine during an NBC News translation of a speech addressing the Russian population prior to sunrise early Thursday morning in Moscow.

The announcement appeared to serve as the final action ahead of an attack by Putin and the Russian military, which the U.S. and European allies to the neighboring Ukraine have attempted to prevent from taking place through diplomatic discussions.

A Ukraine interior minister confirmed to NBC News via text message that “cruise and ballistic missile strikes” were already underway shortly after Putin’s announcement.

NBC News correspondent Erin McLaughlin said explosions could be heard from her live shot in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, at 6:00 a.m. local time.

More than 1,000 protesters were reportedly arrested during anti-war protests throughout Russia amid President Putin’s announcement to conduct military operations and ensuing attack on Ukraine, BNO News reported.

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