Russian hacker groups rebranding is among the changes that have occurred in 2022

The ‘growing unease over cyber threats and risks’ – triggered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict – has catalysed changes in the targeting intent and activity of fraudsters, according to the 2022 Airmic Annual Survey, published 6 June 2022.

The changes, which have occurred since February 2022, are:

  • State actors seeking intelligence on the conflict and the consequent sanctions regime
  • Activity by cyber activists targeting organisations to support either pro-Ukraine or pro-Russia sentiment
  • Cyber activists targeting Western companies that have remained in Russia with the aim of taking geopolitical matters into their own hands
  • Competing activist groups launching retaliatory attacks against Russian and Western companies alike

While ransomware remains rife as cyber risk tops the chart for the third consecutive year running, the survey further revealed that some cybercriminal threat actors have increasingly focused their attention on organisations in countries perceived as adversaries to Russia, as cybercriminals adapt their operations and targeting because of the conflict.

Hacker rebranding

Baker Tilly partner Ben Hobby, who was speaking as part of the Cyber risk and insurance panel at the Airmic conference this morning (8 June 2022), echoed that ransomware is the ‘most common form of attack’ that he is seeing and has been over the last 12 months.

However, new strains and groups are regularly emerging – including “Russian hacker groups rebranding or alternatively new groups taking advantage of the fact that the Russian groups’ focus is probably elsewhere”, he added.

IT supply chains and third-party vendors are also being earmarked, as threat actors look to improve their attack-success – this, as a result, increases the risks of operational downtime and data breaches.

In this scenario, the survey suggests that risk professionals need to consider the maturity and threat profile of their supply chains, in addition to the direct and immediate threats to their business.