Ian Patrick, FISM News
The Department of Homeland Security is warning of Russia using their “offensive cyber tools that it could employ against US networks” based on the US and NATO response to Ukraine, according to a memo obtained by CNN and The Hill.
The memo, dated Jan. 23, was sent “to critical infrastructure operators and state and local governments” according to CNN Cybersecurity Reporter Sean Lyngaas.
The memo states “that Russia would consider initiating a cyber attack against the Homeland if it perceived a U.S. or NATO response to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine threatened its long-term national security.”
We assess that Russia’s threshold for conducting disruptive or destructive cyber attacks in the Homeland probably remains very high and we have not observed Moscow directly employ these types of cyber attacks against US critical infrastructure—notwithstanding cyber espionage and potential prepositioning operations in the past.
The U.S. has been preparing for the possibility that Russia could use cyber warfare in the Ukraine conflict. In December of 2021, both the United States and the United Kingdom sent cyber warfare experts to Ukraine in anticipation of an attack, which later happened. At the time FISM News wrote that both nations feared “a cyberattack on Ukraine with the potential to destroy the country’s power grids, crippling its government and infrastructure.”
U.S. officials have pinned several previous cyberattacks against American companies on Russia or Russian nationals. Hacks on the Colonial Pipeline, the JBS meatpacking plant, and the Kaseya security firm are three examples that involved ransomware, which encrypts the company’s data and essentially holds it for a ransom, that have all been linked to Russia.