Brussels Attacks Led to Cyber-Attack Increases

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March saw heightened cyber activity worldwide, with terrorist attacks impacting cyber-attacks on a global basis.

That’s the word from Cytegic’s March 2016 Intelligence report [PDF], which saw a 17% increase in attack activity over the last month, with North America being the most active region. The Middle East was the second most active, and most interestingly, Western Europe came in third, which given the Brussels attacks is both unusual and unexpected.

“Following the terror attacks in Brussels on March 22, done by ISIS-affiliated terrorists, there has been a heightened cyber-activity level in Belgium,” the report noted. “But even a more interesting aspect may be the effect terrorist acts have on cyber activity throughout different geo-political regions, as our study clearly shows. Our analysis not only confirmed our thesis regarding the effect the Brussels attacks had on the cyber-activity within Belgium, but it also revealed it resonated throughout the world, especially in North America.”

The most-targeted industries in Belgium in the days after the terror attacks were high-profile industries: media, government, critical infrastructure, military and defense.

“We assess that this pattern will repeat itself in the case of a future major terror attack in Western Europe.”

With a 64% spike in activity, the Middle East made the top two most cyber-active regions for the first time ever in the two years we have been tracking global cyber activity.

“We can only speculate that global events such as the US indicting both the Syrian Electronic Army hackers (who made the FBI’s most wanted lists) and the Iranian hackers that targeted US banks and a New York dam may have played a part in that,” said Cytegic.

Meanwhile, the report also found that OpIsrael, a coordinated cyber campaign against Israel which peaks on April 7 each year (timed for the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day) was less significant than in previous years, continuing its descending trend. The campaign is orchestrated mainly by Anonymous-affiliated groups, mostly its Arab and Muslim affiliates, attacking Israeli government, media, banking and finance and other high profile organizations.

“We have been able to identify a pattern of behavior of cyber attackers and attack methods, mainly political activists using DDoS, web application and malware attacks” the report said.

Photo © gualtiero boffo

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