Hacking. Disinformation. Surveillance. CYBER is Motherboard’s podcast and reporting on the dark underbelly of the internet.
The Russian government is “exploring options for potential cyberattacks,” according to a statement from U.S. President Biden.
The statement comes as the invasion of Ukraine has seen a less dramatic or public facing use of hacking tools that some people may have expected. At the start of the invasion, suspected Russian hackers deployed wiper malware on targets in Ukraine. Now, Biden in his statement suggested that Russia could pivot its hacking activities to the U.S.
“This is a critical moment to accelerate our work to improve domestic cybersecurity and bolster our national resilience,” Biden’s statement read. “I have previously warned about the potential that Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the United States, including as a response to the unprecedented economic costs we’ve imposed on Russia alongside our allies and partners. It’s part of Russia’s playbook. Today, my Administration is reiterating those warnings based on evolving intelligence that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks.”
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Biden specifically pointed to critical infrastructure, adding his administration would “deter, disrupt, and if necessary, respond to cyberattacks against critical infrastructure.”
He made an appeal to the private sector, which is a crucial part of defending computer networks from attack, to harden their defenses if they have not already done so.
“Most of America’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and critical infrastructure owners and operators must accelerate efforts to lock their digital doors,” the statement added.
Some Russian state hackers have traditionally been more reckless in their attacks than those linked to most nation states. In 2015 and 2016, hackers working at the behest of the government turned off lights in Ukraine via hacking operations. In 2017, Russian hackers released a potent piece of malware called NotPetya that spread across the world and cost billions worth of damages.
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