Putin’s next escalation could be a direct cyberattack on the US

(CNN)The most troubling takeaway from President Joe Biden’s warning that there is “evolving intelligence” that Russia is exploring options for cyberattacks is that US spy agencies have been spot on so far in predicting Vladimir Putin’s moves.It was always possible that the Russian leader could seek to impose direct reprisals on the US government and Americans for their support of Ukrainians and crippling sanctions on Russia after his brutal invasion.Putin could turn his intelligence agencies or related criminal gangs against US government departments, hospitals, critical infrastructure and utilities. Opening a cyber front, or at least hinting at one, would be consistent with Putin’s strategy of escalation, which has seen him rattle nuclear sabers, turn fearsome fire on Ukrainian civilians and use new generation hypersonic missiles.

But the key question is whether the Russian leader would risk a full-bore cyber conflict with Washington, which, as CNN reported last week, has fearsome capabilities of its own that may outmatch Russia’s arsenal and could quickly deliver devastating hits against Russian critical infrastructure.

Biden first warned on Monday in a written statement that it was time for the private sector, which owns much of the nation’s critical infrastructure and hasn’t always heeded government warnings, to immediately harden its online defenses.

“The magnitude of Russia’s cyber capacity is fairly consequential, and it’s coming,” the President warned. “He hasn’t used it yet, but it’s part of his playbook,” Biden said of Putin.

Anne Neuberger, White House deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, said Monday that after detecting “preparatory activity” by Russia, the administration had held classified briefings with companies and sectors that could be vulnerable to cyberattacks. But she also said that there was currently no evidence of any specific threat. The White House has consistently warned of a potential cyber front of the Russian war on Ukraine ever since the invasion more than three weeks ago, over and above its regular guidance to state and local governments and big businesses and industry.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *