Cyber Attack From “State Actor” Was Just A High-Tech Heist

By on January 8, 2019

January 8, 2019

It safe to say 99 percent of readers won’t follow the technical details of this post, but it’s still worth reading for someone who wants to get a feel for the kinds of threats companies are having to confront in today’s cyber world. The post details how one cybersecurity company fielded, analyzed and came to its conclusion about a sustained cyber attack that targeted Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company. A cautionary tale about the persistence and intelligence of cyber criminals and the complexity of high-level phishing fraud, it also makes clear how complex a major cyberecurity investigation can be. This one took years. The investigators, precisely because Rosneft is so closely tied to the Russian state, initially assumed the perpetrator was another state actor. (The authors do not speculate which state that might have been.) But they soon discovered that they were looking not at a state-sponsored campaign, but what they came to believe was “a criminal effort motivated by the oldest of incentives—money.” The line between the two can be blurry, but the writers warn that it’s important to be aware that it exists, and that “what appears at first blush to be a clear indicator of nation-state malfeasance may in fact simply allow a criminal to hack your way of thinking shortly before hacking your organization.”

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