As tensions rise between Washington and Moscow, President Biden has been telling Americans to be on the lookout for cyber-attacks. These potential attacks have been on the horizon for as long as the technology to communicate between the nations has existed. Yet tensions haven’t been this high since the Cold War. So when President Biden started warning Americans, many older citizens started having flashbacks to that time in our country.
There is a big problem with his warnings though – he may be severely downplaying the threat level. America has way too many targets for the Russians to choose from, and not enough manpower to ensure the defense forces stay up. Considering the list of potential targets, there is a lot to worry about in both the Government and private sectors.
Over the last few years, the banking, power companies, drug makers, food companies, energy suppliers, and defense contractors have all been victims of Russian and other national cyber-attacks, in past years. Then government entities like police departments, up to even the agency over the US nuclear arsenal have all also fallen victim to these attacks. To say that their cybersecurity is lacking would be a vast understatement.
As the Russians and other cyber strong nations make advancements in their quest for dominance through technology, the US and many other countries find themselves scrambling to ensure the networks stay operational. Jen Easterly serves as director for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and held a three-hour teleconference this past week. With 13,000 attendees from a variety of industries, her message was very widespread. “We should consider every sector vulnerable… In some ways, we should assume that disruptive cyber activity will occur.”
Spend some time talking to anyone with hacking experience of any kind. They will tell you just how vulnerable and defenseless this nation can become in the cyber universe. With the advancements in computer coding, the rapid speed computers work and communicate, and the variety of different systems that exist, there is a lot of options to choose from for attackers. Yet the biggest issue simply comes from the sheer force these attacks can carry in both size and number of attackers.
With Biden already putting Putin on warning about attacking the critical parts of our country, there is a wide number of potential places for the nation to be monitoring extremely carefully. Critical in this great land encompasses dams, transportation, water plants, health care, energy, the financial industry, and government among the 16 industries the Dept. of Homeland Security identified as potential targets this past week. Given the recent unsealing of documents by the Justice Department about three Russian spies that stand accused of attempting to breach over 500 energy-related organizations. This includes the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as a nuclear power plant in Kansas.
Last spring one of these Russian criminal hacking groups was able to overtake the Colonial Pipeline, which sent gas prices skyrocketing. They have also taken the Ukrainian electricity and shut it off back in 2015 and 2016. While they aren’t taking everything down daily, they are rather good at what they do and very thorough in their attacks. This makes them a massive threat to US security, but there is little we can do as Russia turns a blind eye to these attacks.
They would never hand these hackers over to the US. They would fully protect them as they can be of good use to the Russian government and the Kremlin. They can protect their assets, as well as ensure that whatever Russia wants to be destroyed gets at the very least attacked. Russia has proclaimed in the past its innocence and lack of involvement in such attacks before, but now it would is more than certain given the political environment. One cannot help but wonder though since Biden is warning us, what is he hiding that Trump would have shared?