As international tensions rise around the globe, experts in all areas of security are taking a closer look at data protection. While cybersecurity threats are an ever-present risk, increasing international tensions have led to the emergence of various other threats, including transnational terrorism and the use of chemical and other unconventional weapons.

The ensuing chaos from the increase in international tensions opens the doors for opportunistic hackers and cybercriminals to wreak havoc in vulnerable regions worldwide. Even in areas not in direct conflict, instability has presented challenges in keeping government and organizational data safe in increasingly at-risk environments.

Rising Overseas and Domestic Threats

The war in Ukraine, Chinese incursions into Taiwan, continuing Iranian-US tensions, and various other emerging potential issues have opened doors for all cyberattacks.

As recently as December 2022, the Center for Strategic and International Studies identified potential spyware hacks of US government employees, including diplomats in multiple countries. In the previous month, the CSIS identified 12 different incidents where the US, Ukrainian, Polish, Bahraini, Pakistani, and numerous other governments were targeted by cybercriminals.

Although many of the attacks reported by the CSIS come directly from foreign entities, data breaches can come from anywhere, and accessing confidential, vulnerable information can impact a country’s operations or wreak havoc on critical infrastructure. The number of nation-state cyber attacks against critical infrastructure has doubled in the past 12 months

In late 2022, the Danish State Railways’ network was temporarily shut down by hackers. However, in 2021, an even more powerful attack against the Colonial Pipeline cut off oil supplies to a large section of the eastern United States. While neither of these attacks appeared to be the work of hostile governments, as tensions rise, so does the potential for damage from similar breaches. 

When it comes to threats against intelligence data gathered by government agencies, the dangers can sometimes be exponentially more dangerous. While direct attacks against critical assets have immediate, tangible consequences, the sensitive nature of national intelligence data means that breaches can have cascading effects. Not only do intelligence data breaches potentially endanger the lives of operatives currently in foreign countries, but the revelation that intelligence operations are ongoing can also justify more direct actions. 

In some cases, information gathered and the methods by which it was acquired can have catastrophic effects on international relations. When tensions are already high, volatile data can be the final straw that dismantles international relations when compromised. Even friendly countries can find themselves at odds over foreign agencies’ methods of collecting data. Because of these factors, securing intelligence data takes on particular importance during times of rising international tensions, even if the countries in question are not directly in conflict with each other. 

Another genuine factor that makes securing intelligence data particularly critical is the potential for harm from compromised internal sources. Whether an operative leaks data themselves or is unintentionally compromised, it can devastate national security or national trust. Examples of these security compromises include the WikiLeaks release of 2010 and the reveal of the PRISM program. 

Challenges to the Private Sector

While the threats to government or infrastructure assets may be the most immediately apparent, data within the private sector can also see increased incidences of targeting during times of international tension or conflict. In addition to purely profit-motivated attacks like the Colonial Pipeline, governments may encourage hackers to after businesses in other countries. Hacking businesses internationally can be a strategic move to disrupt industry during wartime or destabilize other countries’ economies to their advantage. 

Additionally, the increased attacks can compromise sensitive information between the public sector and private contractors, as demonstrated by major security breaches at General Dynamics, Boeing, and Raytheon in the United States in recent years. By exposing private and public security vulnerabilities, international adversaries can access anything from personal information to blueprints for thermonuclear warheads. 

Responding to Threats with Truly Secure Data

With heightened global tensions, securing sensitive data in all sectors is more crucial than ever. Traditional “perimeter security,” which protects data by keeping outsiders from accessing a system, becomes increasingly inadequate in the face of motivated attacks. 

In many cases mentioned above, compromised passwords and user information were to blame for breaches. Even when attacks take on more sophisticated forms of cyberattacks — such as the DDoS attacks against the Italian and Finnish governments and several major US airports in 2022 — attempting to secure sensitive information with traditional perimeter security is inadequate.

Both conceptually and in practice, Zero Trust addresses data privacy’s greatest weaknesses. Rather than relying on a series of firewalls and assuming that users within a system have the right to access information stored on the server, Zero Trust security enables data files to protect themselves through independent verification. Through a Zero Trust security framework, users are continuously verified and authenticated — ensuring that data remains secure even if the system is compromised. 

Integrate a Zero Trust Architecture with Sertainty

Sertainty has redefined how information is protected to ensure data privacy even where firewalls fail. Using cutting-edge protocols and embedding intelligence directly into data files and datasets, Sertainty leverages proprietary processes that enable data to govern, track, and defend itself. These protocols mean that the data remains secure even if systems are compromised.

At Sertainty, we know that data is the most valuable asset to your organization’s continued success. Our industry-leading Data Privacy Platform has pioneered what it means for data to be intelligent and actionable, helping companies move forward with a proven and sustainable approach to their cybersecurity needs.

As the digital landscape evolves and networks become more widely accessible, Sertainty is committed to providing Self-Protecting Data solutions that evolve and grow to defend your crown jewels. Instead of focusing on your network’s inherent shortcomings, we enable you to safely and confidently embrace the potential of a new online-oriented world. Data breaches may be inevitable, but with Sertainty, privacy loss is moot.