Russia Rising, part 3: Hackers targeting Canadian elections, banks and institutions – National

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On the third episode of Russia Rising, we go to the front-lines of a rising cyber-war, the place hackers from Russia, Iran, China and different international locations are battling for management of the whole lot out of your on-line checking account to your metropolis’s hydro grid.

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To grasp how these hackers function, we communicate with a man who was once one: Alexandr Varskoy is a former Russian hacker, who grew up throughout Russia’s gruelling financial transition within the 1990s. The web supplied a sort of escape throughout these troublesome years, he says, including that he and his mates used to hack corporations for enjoyable.

“Whenever you’re 15, it’s cool to hack into Microsoft or Vodafone and say ‘hello’ utilizing your codename,” Varskoy explains. “At first it was only for enjoyable, to show your self to your folks within the hacker scene. We realized pc packages and codes. And if there have been codes with restrictions, the problem was to discover a method to crack these restrictions.”

Varskoy asks to borrow my laptop computer and shortly reveals he hasn’t misplaced his contact. He simply navigates to a web-based chat discussion board for the well-known “Hacktivist” group Nameless and reveals me a publish from 2016 calling for cyber-attacks on Hillary Clinton’s presidential marketing campaign. “When the political video games began, the cyber world entered a harmful time,” he says.

READ MORE: Meet the Canadian on the frontlines of a cyberwar

Along with discussing politically motivated cyber assaults, we additionally discover the underworld of economic cybercrime by talking with Canadian Nicholas Palmer. Initially from Nova Scotia, Palmer now lives in Moscow. And his day job is searching Russia hackers. “Russian-speaking cybercriminals are a really gifted group of individuals,” he says.

Palmer is the director of worldwide enterprise at GroupIB, a non-public cyber-security agency based mostly in Russia. He has spent his profession stopping and responding to cyber-attacks on web customers and companies around the globe, however he says cybercriminals from Russia and Ukraine symbolize his best problem.

“We’ve seen them very simply enter financial institution’s networks, transfer laterally to totally different delicate methods inside the banks, and conduct very extremely expert assaults in opposition to theoretically well-protected networks.”

A cybersecurity firm in Moscow shows cyber attacks happening in real-time.

A cybersecurity agency in Moscow reveals cyber assaults taking place in real-time.

Jamie Baker / International Information

Palmer reveals me one instance of a pretend Royal Financial institution of Canada webpage, which prompts customers to enter their on-line banking password. “Sadly, we detect 1000’s of those (phishing web sites) which might be hosted in Russia, Ukraine and different such international locations,” he says.

Example of a fake Royal Bank of Canada ‘phishing’ website

Instance of a pretend Royal Financial institution of Canada ‘phishing’ web site

Nicholas Palmer / GroupIB

Lastly, we discover the third — and doubtless the scariest — sort of cyber menace: cyberwarfare. Satyamoorthy Kabilan is a number one knowledgeable in cybersecurity who has suggested the Canadian authorities, amongst others, on find out how to shield in opposition to cyber assaults that focus on a rustic’s infrastructure.

Kabilan factors to current examples, similar to a cyber assault on the facility grid in Ukraine or a pc virus that shut down hospitals within the U.Ok. “We’ve seen up to now, for instance, malware builders — they could simply be small teams — however but they will deliver complete well being methods to their knees when their malware really hits a big group,” Kabilan says.

“The popularity must be there that nearly anybody can play this sport and will enter the entire cyberwarfare house or hybrid menace house very, very simply.”

WATCH: Rod Rosenstein explains how Russian cyber assault was carried out

Kabilan says that cyber assaults massive and small usually begin with a single electronic mail, which arrives within the inbox of some unsuspecting pc person. The e-mail comprises an attachment or a hyperlink and the person clicks on it.

“The most important drawback with cybersecurity shouldn’t be the truth that we’ve obtained massive firewalls and the whole lot in place and that these get breaches on a regular basis. Even with these in place, what they depend on is somebody clicking it; somebody clicking a hyperlink, somebody really bringing the payload in. Somebody really letting them get into the system.”


Twitter: @JeffSempleGN



Alexandr Varskoy, Former Russian Hacker

Nicholas Palmer, Cyber Safety Professional, GroupIB


Satyamoorthy Kabilan, Cyber Safety Professional, Public Coverage Discussion board


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