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Russia-Ukraine War: Kremlin’s cyberwar is underway, say experts

Russia-Ukraine War: Kremlin’s cyberwar is underway, say experts

Russia-Ukraine War: Kremlin’s cyberwar is underway, say experts
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By CNBCTV18.com Apr 2, 2022 7:24 PM IST (Published)

US President Joe Biden recently warned private companies and organisations of possible cyber attacks by Russia on the US in retaliation of the sanctions imposed on it for its unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

The threat of cyberattacks on Ukraine and its supporters, including the US, has been looming since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. While US military officials and experts remain vigilant, the battle online continues to escalate, said experts.

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On February 24, the day Russia launched a military operation on Ukraine, over 10,000 modems of the satellite broadband provider Viasat were knocked offline in a multifaceted cyber hack in Ukraine and parts of Europe. The US has attributed the attack to Russia.


Almost a month later, US President Joe Biden warned private companies and organisations of possible cyberattacks by Russia on the US in retaliation of the sanctions imposed on it for its unprovoked attack on Ukraine, BBC reported.

UK’s cyber authorities supported the White House’s claim, although neither government provided evidence that Russia was planning a cyberattack. On Thursday, UK intelligence officers said Russia was on the lookout for cyber targets.


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A report by Google's Threat Analysis Group said this week that Russian hackers had tried to penetrate the networks of NATO and militaries of some eastern European countries although it did not reveal the names of the targets, Reuters reported.

According to Google, the success rate of the "credential phishing campaigns" launched by a group called Coldriver, or Callisto, based in Russia, is unknown.

Although these developments indicate that things are heating up on the cyber front, Russia has been slow in its approach till date, The Guardian quoted Theresa Payton, former White House chief information officer, as saying.

Payton listed two reasons for the slow deployment of Russia cyber tactics in the war. Already reeling under sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin may want to avoid further retaliation from the US and its allies. He may also not feel the need to launch cyberattacks at this point of the war, Payton said.



It could also be that the Russian cyber operatives are at play and are waiting for Putin’s order to launch a full-blown attack. “It is possible that digital attacks are under way and not fully understood in the fog of a ground war,” Payton said.

According to Glenn S Gerstell, former general counsel of the National Security Agency and Central Security Service, the Russian attacks are more likely to focus on cyber reconnaissance missions than forceful attacks.

Gerstell said Russia may be using its resources to “find out about sanctions and other intel”, adding that it was difficult to predict Moscow’s line of offensive as its strategy throughout the conflict has been unpredictable.

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