Over the past few days I've blogged about (1) exploded US military satellites and their (2) possible link to revelations of China's x-ray pulse weapon, to (3) China's "friendly warning" that US ofreign policy is risking getting sucked into a Ukrainian quagmire from which I cannot extricate itself. While all this has been going on, I've been hearing from various friends of internet difficulties, and indeed, this website's technical developer had to take some steps against possible cyber attacks recently. And, as members here will attest, there have been times during our recent vidchats that things have just inexplicably frozen, interrupting the chat.
Well, the US intelligence community is now ratcheting up concerns that Russia has overtaken China as the number one cyber threat to its internet and electrical communications grid(and thanks to Mr. S.D. for bringing this story to out attention):
Of course, one could view this as but more Russia-and-Putin bashing that the Western media has been doing since the unfolding of the Maidan crisis last year. Perhaps, to some extent, it is. But it would be naive, in the current age, to assume that the various great powers do not have large cyber warfare components - both offensive and defensive - in the inventory of their military techniques. Indeed, one can argue that such "soft warfare" components will become - if they are not already - one of the major components in their abilities to confront adversaries without the risk of escalation into "hot warfare."
But this article contains a number of astonishing admissions that, when placed into the context of other developments we've been tracking the past few days, have some arresting implications. Consider these remarks:
"The report lists sophisticated cyberattacks as the principle national security threat facing the United States. “Cyber threats to U.S. national and economic security are increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication, and severity of impact,” the assessment notes.
"Russia is singled out as one of the most sophisticated nation-state actors in cyberspace. The report notes that Russia’s Ministry of Defense is establishing its own cyber command, responsible for conducting offensive cyber activities (similar to the United States Cyber Command).
"The report says that Russia’s cyber command will also be responsible, again similar to its U.S. counterpart, for attacking enemy command and control systems and conducting cyber propaganda operations. Furthermore, “unspecified Russian cyber actors” have developed the capability to target industrial control systems and thereby attack electric power grids, air-traffic control, and oil and gas distribution networks.
"However, the report points out that the United States will not have to fear debilitating strategic cyberattacks on a large scale:
'Rather than a ‘Cyber Armageddon’ scenario that debilitates the entire U.S. infrastructure, we envision something different. We foresee an ongoing series of low-to-moderate level cyber attacks from a variety of sources over time, which will impose cumulative costs on U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.'”
Now this is a stunning admission, for note that "unspecified Russian cyber actors" have "Developed the capability to target" specific components of an enemy's electronic infrastructure, such as "air traffic control,' which, I strongly suspect, is a tacit admission that Russia may have been responsible for taking down the air traffic control grid in the southwest United States a couple of years ago. You'll recall that at the time, this was written off as a computer glitch. A short while later, it was speculated for a short period that this event may have been the result of a Russian cyber attack.
But there's something else here that should give one pause, especially in the context of our blog a few days ago about the explosion of the obsolscent US military-weather satellite, and the Chinese x-ray pulse weapon. Consider this:
"U.S. intelligence agencies have known for years that Russia is a much more capable adversary in cyberspace than China and that Moscow employs more sophisticated and stealthier cyberattack methods. “The threat from China is overinflated, (and) the threat from Russia is underestimated,” Jeffrey Carr, head of the web security firm Taia Global and author of the book Inside Cyber Warfare, emphasized in an interview last year.in an interview last year. Carr added:
“Russia certainly has been more active than any other country in terms of combining cyber-attacks, or cyber-operations, with physical operations. The Russia-Georgia war of 2008 was a perfect example of a combined kinetic and cyber operation. And nobody else has ever done that – China has never done anything like that.”
In other words, Russia is developing military doctrines of the close coordination of cyber warfare techniques with actual boots-on-the-ground military operations. Such capabilities as the cyber-warfare interference and interdiction of specific systems - like air traffic control or global positioning - and "hard" methods such as directed energy weaponry, used in careful "combined arms" types of coordination, could be very devastating. I find it interesting, perhaps a bit too "coincidental", that friends of mine have had unusual cyber attacks on their sites, and a US military satellite inexplicably exploded. Perhaps we are looking at the testing of those doctrines in coordinated soft-hard timed attacks, but now extended into space. This is one to watch, folks, because I suspect that the intelligence community is correct in their analysis: we will see a slow, steady uptick of "regional" and "specifically targeted" cyber attacks in the West. And some of these, we must remember, could always be false flag events, designed to buttress public opinion in favor of internet security and regulation.
See you on the flip side...