72% of IT execs fear nation state style attacks

Nearly three quarters of IT executives say they fear that a ‘trickle-down’ effect of nation state tools and techniques will hurt their business.

A global survey of 1,100 IT decision makers conducted for HP Wolf Security examining their concerns around rising nation state attacks found that 72 per cent of respondents said they worry that tools and techniques used by political hackers filter through to the dark net and could be used to attack their business.

Beyond the risk from cybercriminals, the survey found more than half (58 per cent) of ITDMs are worried their business could become a direct target of a nation state attack.

A further 70 per cent believed they could end up being “collateral damage” in a cyber war. When discussing specific concerns relating to a nation state cyber-attack, sabotage of IT systems or data was the main worry, shared by almost half of respondents (49 per cent).

Other concerns included: disruption to business operations (43 per cent); theft of customer data (43 per cent); Impact on revenues (42 per cent) and: theft of sensitive company documents (42 per cent).

According to HP, such concerns are well-founded. In recent months, evidence has emerged that techniques deployed in the SolarWinds supply chain attack have already been adopted by ransomware gangs – a trend likely to continue.

Ian Pratt, global head of security, personal systems at HP Inc said: “ Tools developed by nation states have made their way onto the black market many times. An infamous example being the Eternal Blue exploit, which was used by the WannaCry hackers,” comments Ian Pratt, Global Head of Security, Personal Systems, HP Inc. “Now, the return on investment is strong enough to enable cybercriminal gangs to increase their level of sophisticated so that they can start mimicking some of the techniques deployed by Nation States too. The recent software supply chain attack launched against Kaseya customers by a ransomware gang is a good example of this. This is the first time I can recall a ransomware gang using a software supply chain attack in this way.”

He explained: “Now that a blueprint has been created for monetising such attacks, they are likely to become more widespread. Previously, an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) with a modest-sized customer base that didn't supply government or large Enterprise may have been unlikely to become targeted as a stepping-stone in a supply chain attack. Now, ISVs of all types are very much in scope for attacks that will result in compromised software and services being used to attack their customers.”

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