Nation-States Adapt New Tradecraft as The Threat Landscape Changes



The readily available nature and commodification of cyber weaponry and offensive elements have led to the rise of new tradecraft by nation-states. The landscape has changed in that attacks aren’t coming solely from nation threat agents but even non-state actors such as the malicious Dragonfly, APT19, and Magic Hound syndicate groups.

The top nations where attacks originate

Why has the landscape changed and which are the leading nations behind most cyberattacks? The countries leading the pack with the highest number of threat vectors are Russia, China, Romania, Brazil, Nigeria, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea, and the United States.

Russian incidents

Russia with its 30-plus well-structured cybercrime groups and a $2 billion cybercrime black market is one of the most potent threat agents on the planet. The Russian government also makes no secret of state-sponsored hacking against foreign nations. They are behind the attack on the Ukrainian power grid of 2015 and the NotPetya virus  which crippled the Maritime industry in 2017 affecting shipping conglomerates such as Maersk.

Chinese threats

One in three cyberattacks globally originates from China. Numerous governments have accused the behemoth country of state-sponsored targeted attacks. Armed with the biggest military personnel of cyber experts anywhere in the world, China is indeed a force to be reckoned with.

In June 2020, a senior Indian police officer revealed that in a period of five days, China had attempted well over 40,000 cyberattacks on India’s banking and IT infrastructure. In the U.S., the country’s intelligence agencies announced that Chinese hackers had interfered with and meddled with both the 2016 and 2018 elections.

How countries are developing new tradecraft

Where new tradecraft is concerned, the intelligence community has had to adapt their techniques and update them to fit in with the modern landscape. The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) elaborates on some of today’s best practices in their Cyber Intelligence Tradecraft Project report.

Noteworthy mentions in the report include:

  • the need to align functional and strategic cyber intelligence resources,
  • modeling threats to shape resource allocation,
  • being mindful of gaps and vulnerabilities,
  • producing scripts to automate the filtration of known threat data,
  • and adapting traditional intelligence methodologies to the cyber landscape.

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