The US has sent its top cybersecurity official to NATO in a bid to prepare European allies for potential Russian cyberattacks.
Intelligence assessments suggest that Russia would issue cyberattacks on Ukraine’s electricity grid, its communications systems and its government, prior to invading.
The relationship between Russia and Ukraine has been turbulent since Ukraine gained independence in 1991, but an invasion appears to be looming following a build-up of Russian troops on the border.
The White House’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, underscored recent intelligence assessments Anne Neuberger will help NATO coordinate its response should Russia’s troops pass over the border, as prime minister Boris Johnson looks to slap sanctions on the country the “moment the first Russian toecap crosses further into Ukrainian territory”.
The White House said in a statement: “We have been warning for weeks and months, both publicly and privately, that cyberattacks could be part of a broad-based Russian effort to destabilise and further invade Ukraine.”
Neuberger, after arriving at NATO headquarters in Brussels, will go on to Poland, where she will meet with Baltic officials responsible for cyber defence.
The US’ offer of an extra pair of hands to NATO to prepare for cyber warfare with Russia is an indicator of how serious the threat is.Ivanti cybersecurity expert Trichy Raman
While the US has observed a number of cyber-clashes, the world has not yet been subject to a cyber war.
“The kinds of disruptive or destructive cyber-actions possible during a conflict are different in scope, kind and sophistication from the types of incidents we have seen during peacetime,” Neuberger is expected to tell NATO.
A leaked document published in a Spanish newspaper today has also suggested the US could be enter an agreement with Russia to ease tensions over missile deployments in Europe, providing Moscow retreats from the Ukrainian border.
Cybersecurity expert at Ivanti, Trichy Raman said: “The US’ offer of an extra pair of hands to NATO to prepare for cyber warfare with Russia is an indicator of how serious the threat is. It is one that businesses need to be aware of and prepare for too.
“Known but unpatched vulnerabilities are the number one risk to UK businesses being breached by state sponsored cybercriminals… For experienced cyber gangs, gaining access through an unpatched vulnerability is a walk in the park.”