If Russia deems that the US response to possible conflict escalation in Ukraine will threaten its long-term national security, it could launch a cyberattack, the latest DHS bulletin warns.
The memo sent to important infrastructure operators in the US suggests that Russia has a range of offensive cyberweapons and insider knowledge gained from previous attacks that targeted US infrastructure over the years. Cybersecurity experts agree with this memo.
Russian-Sponsored Cyber Actors Have Knowledge, Experience, and Equipment
DHS bulletin says that, over the years, Russian state-sponsored cyber actors have effectively compromised routers globally and US state and local government networks. This gave them knowledge of internal procedures, cybersecurity, and ransomware protection levels.
Cybersecurity experts agree with this DHS memo. John Hultquist from Mandiant, a cybersecurity company that works for private and government organizations, says that the company is anticipating an increase in cyberwarfare activity and fears that it won’t be limited to Ukraine or the public sector.
Russia-Backed Cyber Actors Are Responsible for Several Major Attacks on Infrastructure in the US and Ukraine
The most destructive cyberattack in recent history was the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. It caused widespread gas shortages in May 2021. It was soon followed by a cyberattack on JBS, a meat supplying company. In both cases, hackers were from Russia.
Russia is also suspected of sponsoring the Solar Winds breach in 2020, when cybercriminals gained access to ten US government agencies, including the Department of Commerce and DHS.
Ukraine is also one of the frequently targeted countries, according to cybersecurity statistics. Hackers have been attacking its power grid for years. They managed to shut down elements and leave millions without electricity on several occasions. There are also recent reports of coordinated attacks on Ukrainian government websites.
Things Could Get Out of Hand Very Quickly, Experts Warn
Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior Homeland Security official, says that US efforts to prevent a military conflict on the other side of the globe can cause harm on US soil.
If Russia were to launch a cyberattack against targets in the US, there is no doubt that it would make the US retaliate, and it would probably trigger an escalation. A limited conflict could easily spiral out of control.