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According to the chief security officer at Forward Security, Farshad Abasi, Russian-led cyberattacks are heading to Canada or maybe happening already as Canada sides with Ukraine. 

These attacks are inevitable as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to participate in global sanctions against Russians over the war in Ukraine. The government has decided to send aid to Ukraine and fast-track the immigration process for its citizens.

After Canada’s decision, Russia blacklisted Prime Justin Trudeau, Minister of Defence Anita Anand and Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly from entering the country, along with other Canadian officials.

Abasi said that the attacks “may already be happening, and we don’t even know it…If they haven’t already, they will, and we need to be prepared.” 

David Masson of Darktrace said that these possible attacks could include DDoS attacks to take down official websites like the attack on Ukraine government sites. It will disrupt online tasks such as online banking and more.

Masson also warned that prominent Canadian individuals and businesses could be targeted individually, given many hacktivist groups side with Russia.

It was recently reported that Conti, one of the biggest hacker groups, said that they fully support Russia against the war in Ukraine and will organize a cyberattack against organizations that go against Russia.

With Canada’s support for Ukraine and the decision to send aid, it is not hard to imagine that the critical infrastructure in the country is at high risk. Masson said that the electricity sector could be a major target as it would disrupt various industries and sectors.

“Impacting the electricity grid via cyberattack would be a strong signal from Russia for Canada to take a step back in its support of Ukraine,” said Masson.

Industry experts are worried that cyber warfare may already have landed in Canada as Russia is home to the world’s notorious hacker groups such as Sandstorm.

Sandstorm is a unit in Russia’s military intelligence agency with high-profile targets and attacks. The hacking group is believed to be behind the infamous NotPetya malware attack in 2017.

David Shipley, the CEO of Canada-based Beauceron Security Inc., said that “Russia’s capabilities are indeed frightening.

“We are literaly and figuratively poking the bear…So Canadians should not feel that we are not connected to this conflict. We are,” says Shipley.

Shipley also hinted that future cyber attacks could be driven by money as the Russian ruble keeps falling as Western countries have imposed heavy sanctions.

Shipley said large companies in Canada might be prepared for the attack, but small companies are far from ready. Smaller companies don’t have enough budget for cybersecurity and are “most targeted and least defended,” says Elana Graham, co-founder of CYDEF, a Canada-based cybersecurity firm.

“You can live in denial if you like if you are a small compnay, but the reality is you could be comprimised already and you have no idea,” said Graham.