‘The Cold War was over, I think it’s restarted’ — Putin’s cyberwar judo tactics, and how to deal with fear of hacks

Russian President Vladimir Putin was stripped of his judo title recently, but experts say he employs the same principles of that martial art in his cyberwarfare strategy: Use an opponent’s strength against them.

Putin, a big fan of judo, lost his status as “honorary president and ambassador” for the International Judo Federation and his “honorary 9th dan black belt” from World Taekwondo, bestowed upon him in 2013, following his invasion of Ukraine. Experts are concerned, however, that he will use the approach he honed in those disciplines through Russia’s enormous cyberwarfare complex.

Russia has long been considered one of the largest practitioners of state-sponsored cyberattacks, regularly receiving mention in cybersecurity-company watch lists. The country has regularly used that capacity in an asymmetrical manner to disrupt adversaries where open hostilities would not be prudent. Against the West, that means targeting a growing reliance upon interconnected networks and open-source software to power government and financial organizations.

Also read: The prospect of more Russian cyberattacks seems increasingly likely. What can you do to protect yourself? Quite a lot, it turns out.

That said, Putin’s greatest weapon in cyberwarfare is using an opponent’s reliance upon intertwined networks and information against them. When Russia hacked into Ukraine’s power grid back in December 2015 and managed to turn the lights on and off for about a quarter-million customers, the most harmful result wasn’t so much the loss of electricity, but the fear it could instill by showing they could simply do it, Sandra Joyce, head of global intelligence at Mandiant Inc.
told MarketWatch in an interview.

“There is definitely the risk of Russian cyber-aggressors utilizing their current accesses from which to launch an attack,” Joyce told MarketWatch. “It’s the risk of that happening that has increased in the event that Russia decides to retaliate against our sanctions and other measures that we’ve been taking.”

We have nothing to fear but fear itself

Joyce said Russian hackers can already be inside compromised networks like…