Venafi study: Nation-state cyberattacks: 64% of companies suspect they have been targeted or impacted by nation-state attacks

Venafi® announces the results of a new study, which assesses the security impact of increasing attacks by nation states and recent geopolitical changes. The study which reached out to more than 1,100 security decision makers (SDMs) globally found that 66% of organizations had changed their cybersecurity strategy in direct response to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Additionally, nearly two-thirds (64%) suspect their organization has either been directly targeted or impacted by a nation-state cyberattack. Research has also shown that:

• 77% of companies consider that we are in a perpetual state of cyberwar;

• 82% of them believe that geopolitics and cybersecurity are intrinsically linked;

• More than two-thirds (68%) have had more conversations with their board and management in response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict;

• 63% doubt they will ever know if their organization has been hacked by a nation state

• 64% think the threat of physical war is more of a concern in their country than cyber warfare.

“Cybersecurity has always been intertwined with international politics, but the data demonstrates that this fact has a direct impact on security strategy,” said Kevin Bocek, vice president, security strategy and corporate intelligence. threats at Venafi. “We have known for years that state-sponsored APT groups use cybercrime to enable their nations to achieve their broader economic and political goals. Recent attacks, such as the one that hit SolarWinds, as well as recent geopolitical shifts have clearly demonstrated that frequent risk assessment of attacks by nation states should be part of every organization’s security strategy.”

Venafi’s study of methods used by nation-state threat actors shows that the use of machine identities is increasing in cyberattacks orchestrated by nation-states. Digital certificates and cryptographic keys that serve as machine identities are the security foundation for all secure digital transactions. Machine identities are used everywhere from physical and software devices to containers to authenticate and communicate securely.

Venafi’s study also showed that Chinese APT groups conduct cyber espionage to advance China’s international intelligence, while North Korean groups funnel cybercrime proceeds directly into nations’ weapons programs. The SolarWinds attack — which compromised thousands of companies by leveraging machine identities to create Trojan horses and gain reliable access to key assets — represents a key example of the scale and scope of attacks by Nation states that use compromised machine identities. The recent Russian HermeticWiper attack, which breached many Ukrainian entities days before Russia invaded the country, used code signing to authenticate malware in a recent example of machine identity abuse.

“Nation-state attacks are highly sophisticated and often use previously unknown techniques. This makes them extremely difficult to counter,” Bocek continued. “As machine identities are routinely used as part of the kill chain of nation-state attacks, every organization must strengthen measures to manage these critical security assets. Exploiting machine identities is becoming the modus operandi for many nation-state threat actors

About the study

Conducted by Sapio in July 2022, the Venafi study assessed the opinions of 1,101 security decision makers across the US, UK, France, Germany, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands , Luxembourg) and Australia.

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Venafi study: Nation-state cyberattacks: 64% of companies suspect they have been targeted or impacted by nation-state attacks

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