Homeland Security Warns Of Russian Cyberattack Against US
The Department of Homeland Security has warned that Russia could launch a cyberattack against critical US targets in response to America's stance on the potential invasion of Ukraine.
In a memo sent on Sunday, January 23, the DHS warned companies and local governments responsible for critical infrastructure around the country that 'Russia maintains a range of offensive cyber tools that it could employ against US networks'.
The United States has raised the concerns as fears mount of an imminent invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, with talks between Russia, the US and NATO allies proving fruitless. Possible targets of a cyberattack are thought to include railways, hospitals and energy providers.
The DHS memo stressed the threshold for Russia to launch an attack 'probably remains very high'. However, Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior Homeland Security official, told USA Today that that conflict in Ukraine risked dragging the US into a cycle of escalating cyber attacks.
'In a globally connected world, conflicts are no longer geographically isolated,' he said. 'It seems quite possible that the conflict will spin out of control – both on the ground and in the cyber universe.'
In a separate alert, the private cyber-security firm Mandiant stressed that although cyber attacks were already a 'regular facet' of tensions between the US and its adversaries, 'as the situation deteriorates, we are likely to see more aggressive information operations and disruptive cyberattacks within and outside of Ukraine.'
Cyber operations related to Ukraine have already been seen in Europe, with white hat hackers claiming to have hacked Belarus's rail network in an attempt to slow down the movement of Russian troops through the country to the Ukraine border. An attack on US government computer systems last year has also been blamed on state-backed Russian hackers, though the country denies it was responsible.
In preparing for the possibility of cyber attacks over recent years, the Department of Homeland Security has designated 16 sectors of critical infrastructure that, if compromised, would have a 'debilitating' effect on US security and the safety of Americans.
Warnings of attacks on American soil come as the US confirmed it had placed 8,500 troops on standing for a possible deployment to Eastern Europe in anticipation of a military conflict in Ukraine. Russia has amassed an estimated 100,000 troops at the Ukraine border.
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