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Russia is losing cyberwar, study suggests

The top target countries for cyberattacks in 2022 included Russia and Ukraine, as one might expect – but there were a few surprises too, with Kazakhstan leading the pack and Egypt coming in at third place, according to findings from ReasonLabs.

The cybersecurity analyst reached its conclusion by measuring the mean average of detected incidents per web user throughout the year by country: Kazakhstan came out well ahead with 23.37, while Russia was second with 20.26.

The two nations were followed by Egypt (13.48), Ukraine (10.44), and Bolivia (10.24), with more than half of the world’s top 20 target nations located in Asia. This stood in stark contrast to nationally diverse Europe, which only returned a tenth of this total.

A closer look at the rate of cyberattacks throughout the year threw up another unexpected result: Russia appeared to sustain more attacks in the run-up to its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, with the number declining from more than 10 a week at the beginning of the year to just below eight during May.

By far, the most common sort of attack detected in Russia came in the form of trojans (around 46%), with adware (7%) and viruses (0.7%) accounting for a much smaller fraction. By contrast, the US saw slightly fewer trojans as a proportion of its cyberattacks (around 33%) but more adware (12%).

“The trojan family encompasses a wide variety of disparate malware types,” said ReasonLabs. “However, they all have one thing in common, and that is to mask the true purpose of the malware’s intent and to evade detection.”

The analyst added that it took the term to cover “everything from coin and cryptominers to backdoors, spyware, infostealers, and many more threats, all of which are designed to either steal data and resources or cause damage and disruption.”

Russia coming off worse

Overall, the US sustained far fewer detected cyberattacks than Russia and did not make ReasonLabs’ top 20 list – although its neighbor Canada did, coming in eighteenth place with a score of 7.53.

If the firm’s findings are anything to go by, they suggest that Russia is losing the cyberwar, having suffered far more attacks than its great American rival and double that of Ukraine, which saw its rate of digital assaults spike briefly during the month of invasion before they dropped in March.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine was also paired with cyberattacks,” said ReasonLabs. “Detections then decrease somewhat sharply, which we attribute to the possibility of civilians fleeing or hiding the attacks and not using their devices as often.”

ReasonLabs said the most prolific methods of cyberattack suffered by the country were phishing documents, trojans, and exploits – unpatched vulnerabilities that can be used by threat actors to breach computer systems.

But the offensive appears to have been renewed against Ukraine as the war raged on throughout 2022, with all three forms of cyberattack steadily rising throughout the second half of the year.

Other nations in the company’s top twenty list included Indonesia in sixth place (10.00), Israel in eighth (9.68), and China in 12th (8.28).

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