US increases cyber-attacks on Russia’s power grid

WNM | Jun 16, 2019 at 1:12 AM

NEW YORK, June 15 (Newswires) - The US special forces have escalated cyber-attacks on the Russian electric power grid, according to the New York Times.

According to the newspaper’s sources among US officials, the US is attempting to implement programs that can gather information on the Russian power grid and, allegedly, placing crippling malware inside the system. “It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year,” one of the sources cited by the New York Times claimed. “We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”

“Since at least 2012, the United States has put reconnaissance probes into the control systems of the Russian electric grid,” the article says. “But now the American strategy has shifted more toward offense.” “It is intended partly as a warning, and partly to be poised to conduct cyberstrikes if a major conflict broke out between Washington and Moscow.”

“The critical question — impossible to know without access to the classified details of the operation — is how deep into the Russian grid the United States has bored. Only then will it be clear whether it would be possible to plunge Russia into darkness or cripple its military — a question that may not be answerable until the code is activated,” the article states, adding that this action by the US “also carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.”

US president Donald Trump issued new authorities to Cyber Command last summer, in a still-classified document known as National Security Presidential Memoranda 13, giving General Nakasone far more leeway to conduct offensive online operations without receiving presidential approval.

But the action inside the Russian electric grid appears to have been conducted under little-noticed new legal authorities, slipped into the military authorization bill passed by Congress last summer. The measure approved the routine conduct of “clandestine military activity” in cyberspace, to “deter, safeguard or defend against attacks or malicious cyberactivities against the United States.”

Under the law, those actions can now be authorized by the defense secretary without special presidential approval, the newspaper reports.

“It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year,” one senior intelligence official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity but declining to discuss any specific classified programs. “We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”