Cooperation is the best defense in electronic warfare

Cooperation is the best defense in electronic warfare

Although there were fewer attacks on financial infrastructure in 2022, we are not naive. The unique Nordic cooperation of the financial industry in the field of cyber defense means that we have repelled the attacks that occurred.

The battlefield in Ukraine may be far away, but electronic warfare is raging here, too. The financial industry is a vital infrastructure along with, for example, energy supply, healthcare, food, and communications. So we should all raise our guard with three actions in particular:

  • Be wise about cyber security – set priorities correctly
  • Get information and use it to support your priorities
  • Find a community where you can learn about what is happening and could happen in your industry

Nordic Financial CERT (NFCERT) is a collaborative project between the financial industry of the five Nordic countries. Our most important tasks are intelligence, sharing expertise and helping to repel attacks.

In the past year, we have seen more and more advanced denial-of-service attacks in the North region. These block users’ access to digital services – eg websites. This creates noise and uncertainty among the population, even if the effect afterwards is minimal. Pro-Russian activists are behind it.

Denial-of-service attacks are cyber in a nutshell. A lot of what’s going on is simple and accessible services where young people can spend NOK 40 to annoy each other when playing. But the same techniques can exploit the complexity of digital services to disable them, and it’s impossible to 100% defend against denial-of-service attacks. Activists are exploiting this to create fear and damage trust in our digital services.

The attackers are pro-Russian activists. The digital world we live in makes it easier for activists to find together, organize and collaborate. Several groups use channels on Telegram to communicate. They encourage their sympathizers to contribute by providing tools and setting targets for sympathizers to attack from their computers. The group also started with competitions and cash prizes. Those who succeed in contributing the most traffic will receive the prize in cryptocurrency.

Fewer dangerous attacks

At the same time, we’ve seen fewer attempts at serious data breaches against critical financial services. These are well protected and robust against today’s cyber attacks. This deserves more attention than it gets, but “we have strong services” is probably too boring a message to make it to the media picture.

The fundamental work that the financial industry does is invisible and largely has to do with regular work with the fundamentals. But in short, it means that the services have good security and are well protected.

The Nordic financial industry is the most digitized industry in the world, and it is also good at securing digital services against cyberattacks. We know what’s going on and what could happen, because we’re good at intelligence and collaboration. Here, in the Nordic countries, we have an advantage through a number of years of close collaboration across countries. We have built effective information exchange networks across the Nordic countries. Industry stands shoulder to shoulder, and the attack of one bank becomes the defense of the others. By not competing on cyber security, but collaborating, we stand stronger.

Cooperation must be expanded

Good security business. It is essential to have a defense in depth where you take into account the occurrence of intrusions, but at the same time have the opportunity to keep the service available while resisting the attacker who gained entry.

Activists will still want to attract attention with denial-of-service attacks. Perhaps this information war will not go away.

NFCERT produces intelligence reports for the Nordic financial industry. These can be used to plan and prioritize defense and cyber security efforts. They form the basis for frequently updated technical information, which members can use concretely in their cyber defense.

Companies that are part of the sharing community get an advantage — they can be better prepared, and respond more quickly when under attack. Cyber ​​defense is also often about learning – in a community you learn better and faster together. Cooperation in the financial industry in the Nordic countries can serve as an example. We also believe that even the best collaboration among all industries within critical infrastructure has something to offer. But it requires resources and players willing to invest in efficient operating units. If we can do that, we stand firm in electronic warfare.

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Hanisi Anenih

Hanisi Anenih

"Web specialist. Lifelong zombie maven. Coffee ninja. Hipster-friendly analyst."

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