News Brief

Russian Hacker Groups Can Infiltrate a Computer System In 19 Minutes, The World’s Fastest

The company that first linked Russian organizations to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee has released a new ranking of cyber threats, and Russia is at the top.

The new threat report from CrowdStrike ranks state-sponsored hackers by the time it takes hackers to start moving around in a computer system after they’ve made their initial hack. Russia’s “Bear” group, which includes the infamous “Fancy Bear,” does this in an average of 19 minutes, the report claims. This is eight times faster than the second-fastest group, North Korean hackers who CrowdStrike believes are state-sponsored.

“While we certainly expected them to come out on top,” CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch wrote in a blog post, “even we were surprised by the data and how fast they can move inside a network once they get a foothold,” After Russia and North Korea, hackers in China and Iran are ranked fastest. CrowdStrike only considered data from their clients, and focused specifically on state adversaries who targeted them.

CrowdStrike’s more in-depth Global Threat Report also helps shed light on the current state of cyber-warfare. While Russian hackers are portrayed as the fastest, CrowdStrike found that Chinese, Iranian, and North Korean operators each conducted more attacks than Russia did. China, CrowdStrike says, is increasing its cyber-offense amidst the U.S.-China trade war. North Korea, too, at times increased its hacking efforts even as its relationship with the outside world thawed.

“[S]everal nation-states gave lip-service to curbing their clandestine cyber activities, but behind the scenes, they doubled down on their cyber espionage operations,” CrowdStrike writes.

Ultimately, these rankings are worth taking with a grain of salt. CrowdStrike’s report exists partly to market its cyber-defense services, and the firm profits from making headlines, especially headlines about Russia. After CrowdStrike linked the DNC hacks to Russia, Forbes reported that subscriptions to its products grew by 476% year-to-year.

“Successful enterprises often look outward for help,” the latest report concludes, implicitly suggesting readers should hire CrowdStrike.