Preparing for Cyber Warfare: 6 Key Lessons From Ukraine

Having a solid disaster recovery plan is the glue that keeps your essential functions together when all hell breaks loose.

Hadi Shavarini, Independent Cybersecurity Consultant

April 17, 2024

3 Min Read
Soldier in a tech-oriented room
Source: Aleksei Gorodenkov via Alamy Stock Photo


As the conflict in Ukraine enters its third year, the global community is confronted with the grim reality of modern warfare, where cyber operations have emerged as a pivotal battleground. Reflecting on past events and the ongoing crisis, it's evident that cyberattacks have become a constant threat, leaving no sector untouched and rendering the Ukrainian people and their systems vulnerable to relentless aggression.

In January 2022, as tensions loomed, I was tasked with outlining the potential consequences of a Russian attack on Ukraine to a private equity client with operations in the region. Little did we know that the scenarios we discussed would soon transition from hypothetical to harrowing realities.

Fast forward to 2024, and the dire situation persists. Recent cyberattacks targeting Ukrainian state agencies, including the state-owned energy company, and financial institutions such as Monobank, Ukraine's largest mobile-only bank, underscore the severity of the ongoing digital onslaught. The infiltration of Ukrainian telecommunications giant Kyivstar by Russian hackers further highlights the magnitude of the threat, leaving millions without vital services for days.

How to Prepare for Cyber Warfare

Amidst this turmoil, organizations must prioritize disaster recovery preparedness to mitigate risks and enhance resilience. Here are essential steps to consider:

  1. Safety of personnel: Beyond technical aspects, acknowledging the human impact of cyber warfare is paramount. With millions of Ukrainian people displaced and seeking refuge, ensuring the safety and well-being of your teams and their vulnerable families should be a top priority.

  2. Comprehensive backup strategies: Implementing robust backup solutions for critical data, systems, and networks is essential to restore operations swiftly in the event of a cyberattack. A multisite strategy ensures data survivability even in the face of unforeseen disasters.

  3. Cybersecurity training and awareness: Educating employees about cybersecurity best practices significantly reduces the likelihood of successful attacks, making every individual a frontline defender against cyber threats.

  4. Multilayered defense mechanisms: Adopting a multilayered approach to cybersecurity, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and endpoint protection, strengthens defenses and minimizes vulnerabilities.

  5. Incident response planning: Developing a comprehensive incident response plan enables organizations to react swiftly and effectively to cyber breaches, ensuring minimal disruption and damage.

  6. Collaboration and information sharing: Collaborating within the cybersecurity community and sharing threat intelligence and best practices bolsters defenses and adaptability against evolving threats.

When I reflect on the pre-war briefing on that cold January day in 2022, I recall how dark and macabre my presentation was. Nobody thought that what I was outlining could become reality. But it did. And even worse.

As we continue to witness the devastating impact of cyber warfare in Ukraine, it serves as a poignant reminder of the imperative for preparedness and resilience in the face of modern threats. By implementing proactive cybersecurity measures, prioritizing human safety, and fostering collaboration, organizations can defend against cyberattacks and uphold principles of sovereignty and stability in the digital age. It is essential for organizations to have a solid disaster recovery plan, as it is the glue that keeps your essential functions together when all hell breaks loose. Together, we can navigate the complexities of cyber warfare and work towards a future where technology protects and empowers all, even amidst conflict and adversity.

About the Author(s)

Hadi Shavarini

Independent Cybersecurity Consultant

Hadi Shavarini an independent cybersecurity consultant is a seasoned CISSP, with over 20 years of extensive Cloud Security experience across Data, Application, IAM, and Infrastructure domains, along with strategic cybersecurity expertise. As a Cybersecurity Consultant and virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO), he specializes in delivering unparalleled advisory and cybersecurity services fortifying organizations' governance, risk, and compliance strategies. Hadi has demonstrated proficiency in steering cybersecurity initiatives across diverse industries, including financial services, healthcare, energy, manufacturing, tech, and retail. As a vCISO and trusted advisor, he excels in fostering strong client relationships, conducting cybersecurity evaluations, and guiding clients in implementing security frameworks and regulatory compliance. Hadi's leadership extends to his roles as CEO & Cofounder at Blue Robin Inc., and CEO & Cofounder at WebMedicPro. His expertise encompasses a wide range of IT solutions, project management, and strategic consultancy in cybersecurity and technology integration.

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