The US has “developing information” that Russia is exploring opportunities for cyberattacks on the West, Joe Biden has warned.
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The US President urged the private sector to immediately step up its online defenses, saying that “the scale of Russia’s cyber capability is and will be quite momentous.” Vladimir Putin “hasn’t used it yet, but it’s part of his playbook,” Biden added in an address to heads of some of his country’s biggest companies this week.
The intervention followed the release of the latest Annual threat assessment by the US intelligence agencies, who noted that Moscow is developing capabilities to attack submarine cables and industrial control systems.
The “most disturbing takeaway” from Biden’s cyberattack warning is that “so far, US spy agencies have been spot on” in predicting Putin’s moves, he said CNNStephen Collinson, White House reporter.
As the Ukraine war If global tensions escalate, Putin could “turn his intelligence agencies or related criminal gangs against US government agencies, hospitals, critical infrastructure and utilities” in “direct reprisals” for “crippling sanctions” against Russia, Collinson wrote.
the BBC outlined three main scenarios that security professionals reportedly fear most. The first is a targeted attack on critical infrastructure like in 2015 when Ukraine’s power grid was disrupted by a cyberattack called BlackEnergy. The attack “caused a short-term blackout for 80,000 utility customers in western Ukraine,” the channel reported.
A second scenario would be a repeat of NotPetya when destructive software was hidden in an update of the accounting software used in Ukraine. The 2017 malware attack spread worldwide, destroying the computer systems of thousands of businesses and causing an estimated US$10 billion (£7.5 billion) in damage.
The third scenario would be such an attack leading to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline in May 2021. A state of emergency was declared in several US states after hackers disabled the pipeline’s online infrastructure, which carries 45% of the east coast’s supply of diesel, gasoline and kerosene.
timing of an attack
Chris Krebs, a former head of the US agency for cybersecurity and infrastructure security, has warned of the “red lines” that have prevented Putin from launching any further cyber attacks can “evaporate”.
In an article for the financial timesKrebs argued that the “bleak” economic prospects for Russia amid the onset of sanctions “could prompt Russian hackers to move against the West.”
But, The New Yorker said that “the fact that no devastating attacks have taken place so far” “has raised doubts in some circles about the viability and effectiveness of using malicious software as a weapon of war”.
The magazine’s Sue Halpern speculated that “it could be that Russia never had the capabilities that its opponents credited it with in the first place.”
“Unlike conventional weapons, which can be counted, cyber weapons are invisible until deployed, making it impossible for outsiders to appreciate the size and power of a nation’s cyber arsenal,” she wrote.
CNN’s Collinson noted that “there has not been a major cybersecurity disaster such as a widespread power outage, a poisoned water system, or a paralyzed supply chain since the invasion of the US or Ukraine.”
Nearly 20 experts “speaking to CNN” reportedly agreed that while Russia is “well positioned” to launch catastrophic cyberattacks on the US, Putin understands that his cyber capabilities are surpassed by those of the US.
Samantha Ravich, chair of the Center for Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the BBC’s world one that Putin has kept his cyber powder dry, knowing that such weapons can “get out of control.”
However, she added, Putin may lash out as he becomes “more and more desperate.”
The West should “harden the castle walls” against such attacks, Ravich concluded, because although the “cyber dog” hasn’t barked yet, “he will”.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/956180/cyber-warfare-what-is-russia-planning-next Cyber war: what is Russia planning?