Lessons On The Future of Cyberwar From Russia

Russia appears to have pursued a cyber playbook that has been written about by many cyber warfare authors with respect to using cyber attacks at the onset of engagement and against what targets.  As the new Microsoft report relays, Russia conducted extensive cyber espionage against key Ukrainian targets prior to the invasion.  Per Microsoft’s findings, Russia espionage and network penetration has been conducted against 128 organizations in 42 countries allied to Ukraine since the start of the war.  Russian cyber actors have been approximately 29% successful, a quarter of which has led to the exfiltration of a target’s data. While the statistic is noteworthy, it doesn’t necessarily codify if this percentage is good (akin to a baseball player’s batting average) or poor and does not take into account if any taken material was critical to Russia’s operational success or not.  Nevertheless, the report does confirm what many cyber warfare followers have long maintained – an adversary conducts cyber espionage for network mapping and intelligence collection before, during, and after a conflict.