According to new research by an academic group, nation-state cyberattacks are becoming more common and varied. The report analyzed over 200 cybersecurity incidents linked with nation-state actors since 2009 and disclosed that there has been a 100% rise in nation-state incidents between 2017 and 2020.
What’s in the report?
According to the University of Surrey research project, enterprises are one of the most common targets (35%), followed by the cyber defense industry (25%), media (14%), government (12%), and critical infrastructure (10%).
Around 64% of the expert panel said that 2020 experienced a very worrying escalation in tensions, with 75% saying that COVID-19 presented an opportunity for nation-states to exploit.
Supply chain attacks saw a rise of 78% in 2019, and from 2017 to 2020, there were over 27 separate supply chain attacks that could be connected with nation-state actors.
Over 40% of incidents analyzed involved a cyberattack upon assets having a physical and digital component (e.g. an attack on an energy plant), a phenomenon designated as hybridization.
In addition, nation-state actors focused their attacks to obtain COVID-19-related intellectual property data.
The nation-states are stock-piling zero-day vulnerabilities, while 10% - 15% of darknet vendor sales go to unusual purchasers, or those acting on behalf of nation-state actors.
The Web of Profit
One of the major findings in the report is that nation-states are now profiting from the Web of Profit.
Two-thirds (65%) of the expert panel think nation-states are making money from cybercrime, while 58% believe that nation-states are recruiting cybercriminals to perform cyberattacks.
Around 20% of the total incidents involved the use of sophisticated, custom-made weapons, while 50% involved low-budget cyber tools.
Moreover, 50% of the tools were used for surveillance, 15% enabled network incursion and positioning, 14% were used for destruction, and only 8% for data exfiltration.
The growing attack surface of the cyber world has led to the expansion of the cybercrime economy that is booming every year. In addition, nation-state actors are now becoming more sophisticated and using novel tactics. Fighting against such global threats requires international consensus among governments and several strong initiatives by security agencies.