The European Central Bank has already told banks to conduct cyber war games to test their ability to fend off a potential attack, with financial regulators on high alert for a new strike.
A military invasion would likely land Russia with its own economic sanctions, but insiders fear Putin may strike first and try to disrupt the West’s economic structures.
The ECB, led by former French minister Christine Lagarde and which has oversight of Europe’s biggest lenders, has already diverted its attention from regular scams to cyber attacks launched from Russia, an insider revealed.
They added security chiefs have told European and US banks to shore up their defences in preparation for a potential hack.
Vladimir Putin could target European and US banks with a coordinated cyber attack to inflict economic chaos worldwide if Russia invades Ukraine
Service members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are seen atop of tanks during military drills at a training ground in the Dnipropetrovsk region, in preparation for a potential invasion
In Russia, troops staged exercises using Kornet portable anti-tank guided missiles in shooting drills on Tuesday (pictured)
Members of Estonian army take part in military training with British soldiers soldiers in Lasna
The New York Department of Financial Services also issued an alert to financial institutions in late January warning of cyber attacks, according to Thomson Reuters’ Regulatory Intelligence.
Earlier this year, multiple Ukrainian websites were hit by a cyber strike that left a warning to ‘be afraid and expect the worst’, as Russia amassed more than 100,000 troops near their borders.
Ukraine’s state security service SBU said it saw signs the attack was linked to hacker groups associated with Russian intelligence services.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied the Russian state has anything to do with hacking around the world and said it is ready to cooperate with the United States and others to crack down on cyber crime.
Nonetheless, regulators in Europe are on high alert.
Ukrainian troops take part in a command and staff exercise with Russian troops continuing to amass on the border
Large-scale tank and anti-tank exercises took place in Ukraine, near the Donbass, on Tuesday
Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre warned large organisations to bolster their cyber security resilience amid the deepening tensions over Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Mark Branson, the head of German supervisor BaFin, told an online conference that cyberwarfare was interconnected with geopolitics and security.
The White House has also blamed Russia for the devastating cyber attack in 2017, when a virus crippled parts of Ukraine’s infrastructure, taking down thousands of computers in dozens of countries.
The vulnerability was underscored again last year, when one of the globe’s biggeste ever hacking campaigns used a US tech company as a springboard to compromise a raft of US government agencies, an attack the White House blamed on Russia’s foreign intelligence services.
The attack breached software made by SolarWinds Corp, giving hackers access to thousands of companies using its products, rippling through Europe, where Denmark’s central bank said that the country’s ‘financial infrastructure’ had been hit.
The Russian Northern Fleet’s marine gunners have conducted live firing at a training range near the village of Sputnik in the Murmansk region
A deployment of S-400 systems at a Brestsky training ground in Belarus took place during Russia’s war games
The heightened fears come as Russia holds drills for landing troops and armoured vehicles in combat formation on annexed Crimea near mainland Ukraine.
The exercises involve the Orsk and Novocherkassk large amphibious assault ships.
Six additional landing ships are arriving in the Black Sea ostensibly for drills amid fears of a Russian invasion.
‘The exercise involved embarking the hardware and landing an amphibious assault on an unequipped coast,’ said a Black Sea source.
Crews of BTR-82A and BTR-82A armoured personnel carriers went into ‘combat formation’ after landing in an operation involving hundreds of troops at Kazachya Bay in Sevastopol.
The continued war games will do little to dampen the fears of an impending invasion, despite Emmanuel Macron saying on Tuesday he believed steps can be taken to de-escalate the crisis after meeting with Putin in the Kremlin.
Putin held lengthy negotiations with Macron (pictured, on February 7) over the crisis in Ukraine, which were described as ‘constructive’
Russia is holding drills for landing troops and armoured vehicles in combat formation on annexed Crimea near mainland Ukraine
In Ukraine, major tank drills were held near the border with rebel-held Donbas
Additionally, the Korolev, Minsk and Kaliningrad landing ships sailed into the Black Sea from the Mediterranean under cover of darkness, and will be joined today by the Pyotr Morgunov, Georgy Pobedonosets and Olenegorsky Gornyak.
Combat training was also held in Murmansk involving Grad multiple-launch rocket systems, Gvozdika 122-mm self-propelled howitzers, and portable Igla surface-to-air missile systems against a ‘simulated enemy’.
Separately, troops staged exercises using Kornet portable anti-tank guided missiles.
In Ukraine, major tank drills were held near the border with rebel-held Donbas.
Britain said Monday it is sending 350 troops to Poland to bolster NATO’s eastern flank. It already has sent anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.
More than 100 US military personnel arrived in Romania ahead of a deployment of about 1,000 NATO troops expected in the country in the coming days, Romania’s Defence Minister Vasile Dincu said.
US officials have said that about 1,000 alliance troops will be sent from Germany to Romania, a NATO member since 2004. Romania borders Ukraine to the north. About 1,700 US soldiers from the 82nd Airborne are also going to Poland.
Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter conflict since 2014, when Ukraine’s Kremlin-friendly president was ousted, Moscow annexed Crimea and then backed a separatist insurgency in the east of the country. The fighting between Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces has killed over 14,000 people.
In 2015, France and Germany helped broker a peace deal, known as the Minsk agreements, that ended large-scale hostilities but failed to bring a political settlement of the conflict.
The Kremlin has repeatedly accused Kyiv of sabotaging the deal, and Ukrainian officials in recent weeks said that implementing it would hurt Ukraine.