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Cybersecurity and the War in Ukraine: How to Protect your Google Workspace

Cybersecurity and the War in Ukraine

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As the war in Ukraine continues on land, Cyber warfare soars behind in the digital realm, fuelling one of the biggest hybrid wars ever witnessed.

While the digital side of the battle is ‘less visible’ than the physical one, this only increases its danger as its cyber implications stretch beyond the war zone. 

Considering the cyber-chaos unleashed in Ukraine over the past month, Russia has now established itself as a ‘’cyber superpower’ capable of launching deadly attacks against its targets. 

It has even proved that its advanced cyber-capabilities can infiltrate U.S. infrastructure, according to Cybersecurity CEO

Whereby, President Biden recently warned of approaching Russian cyberattacks on American companies as Putin considers using his cyber abilities against targets in the U.S.


A deeper understanding of the cyber implications of the Russian-Ukraine War

And it goes beyond the war zone and the U.S. 

The Ukraine-Russia conflict instantly opened up a third dimension of Pro-Russian and Pro-Ukrainian forces. With Russia noting down its allies and ‘unfriendly’ countries.

Add to that the digital measures and sanctions imposed on Russia, and major companies withdrawing their services from there.

In fact, it’s safe to say that many ‘unsuspecting’ organizations today may as well be on the Kremlin cybersecurity target list.


‘’We should consider every sector vulnerable’’

According to one of President Biden’s top cyber aides, ‘’We should consider every sector vulnerable”.

That’s because such attacks not only target governmental information and intellectual property. They also target utility companies, health institutions, banks, etc. and can cause major disruptions to power grids and main communication systems.

In fact, according to Bloomberg, on Jan. 11, U.S. officials publicly called on utilities to comb their networks for signs of Russian intrusions.


The ‘Topical’ Cyber-allure

As with any event with global concern or attention, cybercriminals are quick to prey on it. 

This time attackers come with war-themed phishing attempts, fake news links, and even relief scams targeting Ukraine sympathizers.

It’s important for companies today to stay vigilant and alert employees to these ‘’topical’’ cyberthreats.


How to prepare your Workspace for potential cyberattacks?


1. Deploy Powerful User Authentication Methods

Lock your doors using effective and secure user authentication methods.

With credential theft on the rise, traditional username and password methods are no longer enough.

Therefore 2-factor authentication (or even 3-factor authentication) is a must today for additional login security.


2. Consider Zero Trust Security Mechanisms

In a world of constant threat, Zero Trust Security offers an ideal approach for organizations in the cloud.

Zero trust is based on the concept of ‘’Never trust, always verify’. It requires all users to be authenticated, authorized, and constantly validated for getting and keeping access to cloud apps or data.

GAT’s ActiveID tool is a perfect example of in-browser Zero trust security as it constantly verifies that the user behind the keyboard is the one logged in based on their unique typing style.  

In return, ActiveID helps keep all Google Workspace domains data secured in the Chrome browser.

That way, no person, device, or network enjoys inherent trust.


3. Manage Cloud Access and Permission Sharing

Keeping applications safe and secure is no easy job. 

That’s because data is often compromised through negligent credential access sharing or not updating applications on a recurrent basis. 

We’ve seen many companies face serious security breaches that expose personal information on many levels because of that.

To keep your cloud secure it’s important to track and understand the level of permissions granted to the applications connected to your cloud. 

When there’s a security breach, such as data leakage, the culprit is always the high level of access an employee had to do their job and/or improper use of credentials.

To overcome this, organizations must design and implement a permission model that fits their team and security needs. 

We’d recommend limiting access to only the bare minimum permissions required for an employee or application to do their job and no more. 

A third-party cloud security tool would simplify the process by allowing system administrators to see all users, applications, and permissions.

Our tools, for instance, provide system admins with the most granular view of the level of access to every single application connected to their cloud.  

It also categorizes them by risk level depending on the access permissions granted, allowing admins to create data security policies in seconds.


4. Use State-of-the-art Security Technology 

‘Survival of the fittest’ is a good concept to apply when choosing (and assessing) the technology you use and deploy across your organization.

That would include the implementation of the best cybersecurity methods, systems, and devices.

As we’ve seen during the pandemic, the sustainability of businesses now depends on how ‘fit’ its technology is to swiftly adapt to new work models and secure systems against threats.


5. Update Systems and Apps regularly

Not updating applications and software on a recurrent basis weakens your cybersecurity posture.

Updates usually carry improvements that help strengthen your system’s security posture. From bug fixes to security patches, updates to existing features, and/or removal of old ‘less secure’ ones, etc.


6. Get your Cloud Audit and Alerting Game on

 Auditing is core to risk management and better security.

That is because it helps System admins identify, assess, and consequently better control threats. 

For instance, by auditing things like users’ external file-sharing activities you can act fast and revoke risky file-sharing permissions.

You can also make use of real-time alerts to be notified every time any given user (or group of users) with high privilege levels or access installs a risky application.

That way, by auditing the right areas of your system and creating alert rules, your users and data will become more secure. 


7. Boost your Email Security

Emails are the go-to communication tool for most modern businesses today. 

Unfortunately, that also makes your users’ email inboxes one of the very first doors cybercriminals will try to wreak all kinds of mischief.

From targeting users with sly phishing emails to stealing users’ credentials through deceit, and much more.

Luckily, most hosted email services today offer ways to increase email security such as alerting users to external senders or regulating spam messages.

For more security, consider practices like encrypting email data, whitelisting certain domains only, using email attachment protection and anti-phishing tools.

You can also use a tool like GAT Unlock, for instance, to find and delete spam and phishing emails from your users’ Gmail inboxes.


8. Prepare a step-by-step disaster recovery plan

Now let’s talk ‘’damage control’’. 

When it comes to Cybersecurity it’s important to always be prepared even for the ‘worst case scenario’. 

That’s where a comprehensive disaster recovery plan comes in. 

Starting by identifying your business continuity needs in case of an attack. For example, what would users need to get back to their jobs fast? What does the backup and restore process here look like?, etc.

From there, ensure your plan covers the most vital services and enables you to recover data fast and minimize any data exposure that follows.


9. Level up your Users’ Cybersecurity Awareness

The user is always the weakest link in the equation. 

That’s why their cybersecurity awareness is their first line of defense against cyber threats. 

To achieve that, cybersecurity awareness programs must be provided to all employees constantly. 

This will help build your employees’ cybersecurity instinct and can remarkably boost your overall cybersecurity efforts.


Closing thoughts

As cybersecurity concerns grow for both companies and governments, knowing how to effectively protect your systems, employees, and data is pivotal.

According to the EU Agency for Cybersecurity, ‘’Daily reports on security incidents in companies and authorities show that there is an urgent need for action to improve IT security’’.

Using the above simple practices you can dramatically improve the safety and security of your organization’s applications. It will also reduce its vulnerability to any attacks.

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