In the face of severe economic and financial sanctions, Russia may step up cyberattacks as a way to raise funds, warns Moody’s Investors Service in a new report.
The rating agency said there’s a growing risk of financially motivated cyberattacks targeting banks, crypto platforms and corporations’ intellectual property, perpetrated by Russian government and non-government actors.
“The sweeping sanctions imposed on Russia following the Ukraine invasion have already had a large effect on Russia’s economy,” it noted.
And it warns that cyberattacks could increase “as the sanctions increasingly isolate Russia from the international financial system.”
There’s precedent for sanctioned countries using cyberattacks in response, it said.
“These attacks may include ransomware attacks, which have become more prevalent in recent years and which cybersecurity experts and authorities most commonly attribute to Russia-based actors,” Moody’s said, adding there could also be an increase in attacks that steal funds directly from banks and cryptocurrency platforms, along with corporate intellectual property theft.
“These are the same types of targets of prior attacks that governments and cybersecurity researchers have attributed to North Korea and Iran,” it reported.
So far, most of the activity related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict has been “nuisance-level” cyberattacks, which Moody’s said are typically short-lived and can generally be prevented with strong cybersecurity measures.
Still, “There is concern that such uncoordinated attacks could escalate hostilities if they cause damage to critical infrastructure, especially because these types of attacks are difficult to attribute quickly and accurately,” it said.