Russia’s invasion impact on Arizona’s cybersecurity and food costs

The Russian government has threatened it will use cyberattacks against any country that retaliates to its invasion of Ukraine.
Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 4:13 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- When it comes to computer hacking, it can happen to anyone at any time. And now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, the Russian government has threatened it will use cyberattacks against any country that retaliates, including the U.S.

“Do Arizonans need to be worried about cybersecurity since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?” 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper asked computer expert Ken Colburn. “Yes, they do,” he replied.

Colburn says you always need to use antivirus software and other measures to prevent hackers. But, since Russia’s invasion, certain people are now more at risk of being targeted. For example, Arizonans who work for a large company with government contracts are highly desirable to Russian hackers. All they need is one employee who gets sloppy when using their computer, and Russia can shut down an entire industry.

“You think about security and all the firewalls that these companies build; that’s not where the bad guys are trying to penetrate these fortresses,” Colburn said. “All they have to do is trick an individual who has access at one of these companies.”

During the past two years, Russian hackers were able to shut down one of America’s largest pipelines for days, and they also succeeded in attacking the world’s largest meat factory, most likely because an employee let their guard down and clicked on something they shouldn’t have. Let’s move on to another category—the cost of food.

“Will Russia’s invasion affect how much we pay for food now?” Gary Harper asked Kathleen Merrigan. She’s the former Deputy Secretary of U.S. Agriculture under President Obama. “Probably not. And certainly not in the short term,” she said.

Merrigan says consumers shouldn’t worry about increased grocery costs because the United States does not import much, if any, food from that region. However, other countries will be deeply affected.

“Libya, Bangladesh, and many of the countries that are food insecure and companies that depend on Ukraine’s exports will be affected,” she said. “So, lives will be put in jeopardy because of this. That is certain.”