Russia Exploits Global Pandemic for Economic Attacks
In February 2019, OODA Loop published a piece entitled “Russia 2020 – What Will Putin Do Next?” and we noted that disrupting public trust in equities markets was a viable target.
“Market dynamics. Outside the electric power grid, attacks that impact the credibility of markets and financial institutions are likely to cause disproportionate outcomes. While direct compromise is always a potential attack vector, it is important to note that public markets could be impacted by influence operations targeting algorithmic trading platforms or public sentiment.”
The COVID-19 market disruption presents an attractive opportunity for Russia to have a disproportionate impact on U.S. economic strength by engaging in policies that amply existing conditions to further drive panic and algorithmic disfunction.
Former Saudi Aramco EVP Sadad Al-Husseini noted “It is very difficult to determine what the Russians are trying to achieve…the Russians have no interest in any sensible cuts.”
Sensibility is not the strategic intent of the Russian government or any associated oligarchs pulling the strings at this point. This is a pure disruption play intended to highlight the weakness of Western public markets realized through the exploitation of global pandemic circumstances. It is an opportunity of such rarity, it is proving impossible to pass-up and we should expect more targeted disruption in future weeks and months, not less.
It is important to note that the cyber threat from the Russians (and others) is also amplified during this period of uncertainty and threat actors will seek to further compromise critical infrastructure. Also, as many companies enable remote working for a larger user population, it presents an opportunity for attackers to hide in the noise or exploit remote working platforms and gain unauthorized access. Lastly, issues that garner national attention are also prime topics for high engagement spearphishing campaigns purporting to be COVID-19 updates.