Chaos in Ukraine Raises Cyber Specter

March 23, 2022 | Bank Iowa

The unprovoked attacks against Ukraine have increased concerns around cybersecurity risks in the U.S. and other parts of the world. That’s because Russia has a track record of using cyber hacks as weapons, including a 2015 attack against Ukraine.

Although we are unaware of any specific threats to the U.S. currently, Bank Iowa’s cybersecurity team is keeping a mindful watch on our systems, as well as news of any potential threats to U.S. IT infrastructure. We have also enhanced our security monitoring solutions and service, implemented additional backup and network security controls and engaged our security vendors in more frequent discussions around proactive action. 

You may consider doing the same to secure your business as the chaos and uncertainty abroad warrants. A few other steps you may want to take, include:

Increase frequency of employee training.

Remind all of people who have access to your systems – employees, contractors, vendor partners – to question every email with a link or an attachment. This is a best practice even when the email appears legitimate, as hackers have gotten very good at impersonating legitimate connections. Malicious emails may not originate from state-sponsored actors. Domestic actors use newsworthy events, such as COVID-19 or the Ukraine-Russia conflict, to persuade email recipients to take action, such as clicking a nefarious link or opening an infected attachment. 

Ensure that your software is up to date.

When computers and other devices notify you of an available update, proceed as soon as possible, i.e., the same day). These updates typically contain security patches from the software provider, which means they have learned of a specific vulnerability or threat floating around the wild wild west of the internet. Patching your computer protects it from exploits, malware and ransomware. It also ensures your systems operates properly, minimizing errors and performance issues.

Use a password manager.

Tools like Dashlane and LastPass are generally safer than other methods for generating and storing complex passwords. The proliferation of data breaches that expose usernames and passwords dictate that everyone use unique passwords for every, single site that requires authentication, and that we change them frequently. Password managers can make following those best practices and others a less daunting experience. 

Be cautious of public Wi-Fi networks.

If you or your employees use a hospitality Wi-Fi network, say at a café, library or airport, your data is not secure. Either avoid use of these networks altogether by supplying your employees with a secure alternative, or never transmit confidential information, such as credit card or Social Security numbers or sensitive work product, over these unsecured networks. 

Of course, cybersecurity is far from the only risk presented by the conflict in Europe. Next month, we’ll explore the economic impacts of the crisis and provide expert tips for keeping your money safe during this and similar circumstances. 

With more than $1.7 billion in assets, Bank Iowa ranks as one of the leading independent ag banks and the second-largest family owned bank in the state. Farmers, families and businesses access Bank Iowa’s products and services through 26 locations in 23 communities, as well as online and on mobile devices. To learn more, visit Member FDIC.