As the deadly Russia/Ukraine conflict enters its second week, experts are warning of a less visible yet formidable threat by invaders.
Potential waves of cyber-attacks from Kremlin hackers have been on the radar and already several countries have taken steps to prevent any destabilisation.
According to senior strategic business and information technology executive Donny Ramdathsingh, citizens in T&T should be vigilant.
Speaking with Guardian Media on Friday, Ramdathsingh noted that the onslaught of attacks could lead to a wider digital conflict.
He said, “Nobody knows how far it’s going to escalate. What we’ve seen so far is some software not known before, so nobody will know for certain how deep this goes. All we could do is look and keep updated, have your backups and prepare.”
The CEO of Caribbean Tech Trendz Ltd warned of the disastrous effects of a cyber-attack.
“In very clear terms, a cyber-attack can cripple computer systems meaning that for example, a company may lose money because their website is inaccessible, or as we have seen on TV in last couple days, the public sector can be stopped from offering essential services,” he noted.
Digital anthropologist Daren Dhoray explained how cyber-attacks in Ukraine could spill over into other territories.
He said, “The thing is, this malware or bad software really doesn’t care if you are from Ukraine or Trinidad or the US or Canada. It might be developed to target a particular location, but it’s not far to think that software can reach right here in Trinidad.”
Dhoray said hackers could force systems to crash with just one wrong click of a mouse.
“You could be downloading malware, you could be installing ransomware and those could lead towards wiping your entire machine.”
Dhoray, just like Ramdathsingh, has had his eyes focused on the Russia/Ukraine conflict and emerging cybersecurity threats.
He said although there were several ways for a cyber-attack to take place, one in particular raises a main concern.
“Consider this—you can have cyber warfare happening at disinformation level so spreading propaganda, spreading disinformation and convincing a group of individuals to go against another group and that’s all happening in the social space and that can have far-reaching consequences as it moves away from a digital space to a physical way,” he said,
If Russia’s cyberwarfare escalates, IOT infrastructure engineer and owner of Zeal Technologies Shane Lela says, there are steps people can take to protect themselves.
These include keeping your anti-virus software up to date, choosing strong passwords, using only trusted Wi-Fi resources and avoid giving out your personal information.
Lela also cautioned people about being lured into questionable social media pop-ups or sites asking for aid for Ukraine.
“Threats can arise from spoofing help and aid to Ukraine. Most of the financial institutions are being restricted for Russia but Russia can probably seek aid from other countries pretending to be Ukraine,” Lela said.
Several local companies are already strengthening their defences. The ANSA McAL group IT department has advised employees to be extra vigilant and cautious in dealing with correspondence, particularly from external sources.