US military hackers are understood to have penetrated Russia’s electricity grid, telecoms networks and Kremlin command systems, ready to strike back if the pivotal US elections are disrupted by hackers.
It has been part of the US military doctrine for a number of years to consider an attack on US-based servers as an attack on sovereign territory.
But high-profile attacks – like those on Sony Pictures by North Korea, and a variety of attacks on US government bodies in the past year or two – beg the question: what is the US actually doing about it? Or perhaps, how much do we actually know about what the US is doing?
‘The recent disclosures of alleged hacked emails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks, and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona, are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts’
– OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
In the past year, attacks alleged to come from Russian-backed and sanctioned hackers have seen damage done to the World Anti-Doping Agency during the Olympics, as well as a major hit on the Democratic National Party in the US. In recent days, Microsoft and Adobe have revealed that they are under attack from Russian hacker group Fancy Bear.
But now it appears the US is becoming quite public about its plans for a response to further attacks, especially during election week.
Russian infrastructure penetrated
According to NBC News, American military forces are understood to have penetrated Russia’s electricity grid, telecoms network and the Kremlin command system – and will strike back if necessary.
It is understood that major attacks in recent years by Russia, China and North Korea– where malware and phishing breaches have disrupted US-based businesses and government bodies – are considered probing attacks and preparation of the cyber battlefield.
It is understood that US military planners aren’t expecting an attack on US infrastructure – which would be considered an act of war – but instead are anticipating more document leaks and misinformation.
Last week, a hacker known as Guccifer 2.0, which the US claim is a front for Russian intelligence, bragged about being “inside the system” of US elections.
While America appears to be the focus of many cyberattacks by nations which purport to have cyber armies, the American military is quite discreet about its own arsenal of cyber weaponry, which is understood to be considerable.
“The US Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organisations,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security said in a joint statement.
“The recent disclosures of alleged hacked emails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks, and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona, are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.”
The ultimate question is how much the public will know about the strike back by the US cyber army, if and when it occurs.
And, of course, to what extent the cyber wars are already being waged behind the scenes.