Will Russia Launch a New Cyber Attack on America?
Policy circles in Washington are now debating how Vladimir Putin might respond to a major contraction of the Russian economy and clear signs that Moscow is losing the war in Ukraine. Some posit that a cornered president, furious and facing a near defeat, might indeed respond brutally—moving the proxy confrontation of a new Cold War front to a cyber battlefield, where Russia has a greater advantage, and launching a massive cyberattack against the United States. However, several key factors call this thesis into question. Similar to Iran and North Korea, Russia is known to be responsible for some of the most aggressive, large-scale cyberattacks. However, these cyber tactics have played a rather peripheral role, either in supporting conventional warfare or through disinformation campaigns that serve to spread chaos and panic among targeted societies. For the first time, a known state-backed attack occurred in 2007 and lasted for twenty-two days when the Russian military intelligence unit, the GRU, targeted Estonian commercial, government, and Domain Name System (DNS) servers, and online banking systems. The attacks fell under the Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) categories that include methods such as ping flooding, spam distribution, botnets, and phishing emails. In 2008, as a part of hybrid warfare amid the occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia defaced Georgian state websites.
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