The financial pressure on Russia, as a result of global sanctions following the military conflict in Ukraine, is increasing to the point where cybercrime is now seen as a viable alternative to conventional revenue sources.

This is according to Deon Smal, CEO of Cyber Insight, wh says that with the collapse of the Russian rouble, the closure of the Moscow stock exchange and the freeze on Russian assets in the West, cybercriminals have been motivated to launch broad-ranging cyberattacks on a global scale in bids to obtain cryptocurrency.

“Russia has always been tolerant of cybercriminals and has had little interest in cooperating with other countries to curb cybercrime,” he says. “Now it is open season for Russian hackers who see phishing scams, zero-day exploits and ransomware attacks as profitable and low-risk. Unsurprisingly, the hackers are often Kremlin-backed.”

Smal warns that the number of cyberattacks will increase exponentially – even if hostilities cease – as hackers spread their nets and add large numbers of smaller organisations to their most popular targets which include financial institutions, major manufacturing firms and energy companies.

“Cybercriminals are presently raising their game. The increasing use of sophisticated artificial intelligence tools to improve cryptocurrency returns on ransomware attacks represents a wake-up call for all organisations and their financial managers who should recognise the increasing risks of doing business on global networks,” he says.

“By ensuring that their software is updated, sensitive data is encrypted, backup procedures are followed and multifactor authentication is adopted, companies can minimise vulnerabilities, harden defences and present themselves as less-attractive targets, prompting the hackers to choose softer options elsewhere.”