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Cyber war intensifies as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine continues, researchers find

Modern warfare is waged on multiple fronts simultaneously, including the cyber realm, which is actively exploited by nation-states to cause chaos and disruption.

Researchers from ReasonLabs’ Threat Intelligence Center (TIC) discovered the most common cyber threats encountered by consumers in 2022. Similarly to 2021, Trojan Viruses accounted for top threat detections, which are being deployed almost daily in countless varieties. They were followed by PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) and HackUtilities (cheats, trainers, license software hacks, hacking tools, etc).

Detailing the most popular exploits (which make use of a computer’s vulnerabilities), researchers note Follina (CVE-2022-30190), Log4Shell (CVE-2021-44228), Chrome Zero-Days, and Rootkits.

In their report, experts from ReasonLabs dived deep into the ongoing cyber war, accelerated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Different types of cyber warfare include espionage, sabotage, propaganda, and economic disruption, among others. They are typically motivated by military actions, hacktivism, monetary gain, not-for-profit research, and more,” the report says.

Despite the current tensions, the cyber war started a long while ago, with recorded instances including the Russian government’s intervention with the 2016 US presidential election.

Researchers discovered that Kazakhstan, Russia, Egypt, Ukraine, and Bolivia were among the top five most attacked countries in 2022. Additionally, over 50% (11/20) of these countries are in Asia, while only 10% (2/20) are from Europe.

When it comes to Ukraine, the results showed differing scales of cyber intensity. Researchers investigated three areas of detection that impacted Ukrainian civilians: phishing documents, trojan viruses, and exploits.

“On all three charts, we see an increase in detections in February compared to January, signaling that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was also paired with cyber attacks. Detections then decrease somewhat sharply in March, which we attribute to the possibility of civilians fleeing or hiding the attacks and not using their devices as often. As the year progressed, we saw all three types of attacks pick up strongly.”

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