Many attacks seek to disrupt services or identify and exploit national infrastructure vulnerabilities

Russia and China sponsored over 50 cyberattacks in 2022, with Ukraine being the most targeted country, according to data collected by Atlas VPN

The data is based on Council on Foreign Relations Cyber Operations Tracker. It categorises all instances of publicly known state-sponsored cyber activity since 2005 and only contains data in which the threat actor is suspected to be affiliated with a nation-state.

State-sponsored cyberattacks are typically carried out to espionage secret government data, disrupt services or identify and exploit national infrastructure vulnerabilities. 

The private sector suffered from 37 state-sponsored cyberattacks so far in 2022. Hackers target companies for monetary gains, which they can use later to fund future attacks. Threat actors also want data about customers held by businesses.

Russia and China well funded

Russian-backed hackers carried out 27 cyberattacks in 2022. The attacks mainly targeted Ukraine due to the war started by Russia. Ukrainian government websites, organisations, and broadcasting companies suffered a total of 23 espionage, data destruction, or denial of service attacks.

Some Russia-sponsored attacks spilled out to neighboring Eastern European countries, such as Lithuania and Latvia. Hackers targeted each of them in three cyberattacks.

China has sponsored 24 cyberattacks this year so far. State-backed hackers attacked the United States, Indian and Taiwanese governments and organisations.

With the growing tensions between China, Taiwan, and the US, such cyberattacks could happen even more often in the year’s second half, warns a cybersecurity researcher at Atlas VPN.

North Korea-sponsored hackers engaged in nine cyberattacks. North Korean cybercriminal Lazarus Group was responsible for most of the attacks. Their main targets were the US and South Korea. They attacked cryptocurrency companies, for example, the hack on Axie Infinity, in which hackers walked away with $600m worth of crypto.

Iran sponsored eight cyberattacks in 2022. Most of their attacks were against countries in the Middle East or the US. Other countries that backed cyberattacks targeted activists, journalists, or opposing political party leaders.

Besides Ukraine as the most attacked country, the US was the second most targeted with 10 attacks. Russia and India followed next, as both suffered 7 state-sponsored cyberattacks.As geopolitical tensions rise, so does the possibility of state-sponsored cyberattacks.