“Russia could be very typically related to tweets coping with cyber threat”

DWith the start of the war, on February 24, 2022, cyber emerged in Ukraine as a new zone of conflict – in addition to military, diplomatic and economic bases – with fear of Cyber ​​Pearl Harbor which could push the world into a new form of digital warfare and expose the global economy to the risk of a cyber-induced economic crisis. More than three months later, where are we at cyber risk?

Cyber ​​risk is defined as a combination of the probability of cyber incidents (malicious incidents or not, which threaten the cyber security of the information system or violate security procedures and rules) and their impact. Cyber ​​risk is inherently difficult to measure and quantify given the illegal nature of cyber attacks and their multiple forms.

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This risk, in fact, can affect any individual victim of theft of their personal data, but also a multinational company victim of a computer intrusion, or even a hospital, or even a bitcoin exchange platform. Analyzing social network traffic like Twitter can then be helpful. Everyone is talking about everything on Twitter, including cyber risks.

Take the “temperature” of cyber risk

In our study (“Cyber ​​risk measurement” presented in the Banque de France blog “A measure of the evolution of cyber risk”), we build a cyber risk indicator based on the number of tweets that deal with this topic in the entire twitter traffic. This indicator has proven to be effective in accounting “temperature” cyber risk as perceived by users of this network.

Indeed, it shows a strong increase in cybersecurity traffic on Twitter for all major cybersecurity developments since 2010. Analysis of tweets on cybersecurity since the start of the war in Ukraine provides the following insights.

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First, the intensification of cyber risks with the war in Ukraine is part of the context of the resurgence of cyber attacks. Our cyber risk indicator remained relatively low after the May 2017 attacks (with WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware) until the discovery in December 2020 of a massive breach of U.S. federal data.

A fast growing activity

It then increased sharply in May 2021 with the attack on the Colonial Pipeline oil pipeline system, which is still in the United States, then from February 2022 with the war in Ukraine. Second, the peak intensity of Twitter traffic on cybersecurity occurred at the beginning of the war (February 24, 2022), and then gradually decreased until it reached pre-war values ​​at the end of March 2022.

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