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(Con) Russia Scenario

US cyber warfare threats against Russia increase war risks

Greenburg, , 2019, Andy Greenberg is a senior writer for WIRED, covering security, privacy, information freedom, and hacker culture. He’s the author of the forthcoming book Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers, out November 5. Greenberg’s reporting on Ukraine’s cyberwar has won a Gerald, June 28, Iranian Hackers Launch a New US-Targeted Campaign as Tensions Mount, https://www.wired.com/story/iran-hackers-us-phishing-tensions/?fbclid=IwAR2T_Yo47vnwWH0DmOuPWJgGh5TMy6Dhty4RzBAe8jmXMao6dRsNWjRACfk

Over the past weekend, The New York Times reported that US Cyber Command has penetrated more deeply than ever before into Russian electric utilities, planting malware potentially capable of disrupting the grid, perhaps as a retaliatory measure meant to deter further cyberattacks by the country’s hackers. But judging by Russia’s response, news of the grid-hacking campaign may have already had the immediate opposite effect: The Kremlin warned that the intrusions could escalate into a cyberwar between the two countries, even as it claimed that Russia’s grid was immune from such threats.

 

US can’t win a cyber war against Russia and has more to lose

Greenburg, , 2019, Andy Greenberg is a senior writer for WIRED, covering security, privacy, information freedom, and hacker culture. He’s the author of the forthcoming book Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers, out November 5. Greenberg’s reporting on Ukraine’s cyberwar has won a Gerald, June 28, Iranian Hackers Launch a New US-Targeted Campaign as Tensions Mount, https://www.wired.com/story/iran-hackers-us-phishing-tensions/?fbclid=IwAR2T_Yo47vnwWH0DmOuPWJgGh5TMy6Dhty4RzBAe8jmXMao6dRsNWjRACfk

But former White House cybersecurity officials caution against that cyberwar hawkishness. “The idea that we can use cyber offense capabilities to impose sabotage-like effects, and to do so in increasingly large scale and costly ways until they get it through their head that they can’t win, I don’t think that’s going to work,” says Tom Bossert, who served as White House homeland security advisor and the president’s most senior cybersecurity-focused official until April of last year. “I want to make sure we don’t end up in an escalatory cyber exchange where we lose more than they do.” Bossert points out that in many respects the US economy and infrastructure is far more reliant on digitization and automation than Russia’s, giving the Kremlin an inherent advantage in any future no-holds-barred cyberwar. He paraphrases former secretary of defense Ash Carter: “If you’re doused in gasoline, don’t start a match-throwing contest.”

 

Offensive cyber war with Russian creates hair trigger scenarios that risk conflict

Fred Kaplan, June 17, 2019, We’ve Entered a New Age of Cyberwar, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/06/trump-cyber-russia-power-hacking.html

So the United States is hacking Russia’s power grid, just as Russia is hacking ours, in ways that are more aggressive than in the past, according to a front-page story in Sunday’s New York Times. But what does it all mean? Is this hacking really much different from what’s gone on for many years? Does it boost the chances of a cyber arms race or a cyberwar? One thing is clear: Cyberspace is now seen by officers and officials as just another “domain” of warfare—along with air, land, sea, and space. But there’s something different and more dangerous about this domain: It takes place out of sight, its operations are so highly classified that only a few people know what’s going on there, and it creates an inherently hair-trigger situation, which could unleash war in lightning speed with no warning.

 

us attacking Russia civilian infrastructure- escalating now

Sanger and Perlroth 19 (David E. Sanger reported from Washington, and Nicole Perlroth from San Francisco, “U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid,” June 15, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/15/us/politics/trump-cyber-russia-grid.html?searchResultPosition=1)

WASHINGTON — The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said. In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections. Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue, after years of public warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. that Russia has inserted malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, or water supplies in any future conflict with the United States. But it also carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

 

Cyber policy is the equivalent of cold war nuke strategy- that’s terrible

Sanger and Perlroth 19 (David E. Sanger reported from Washington, and Nicole Perlroth from San Francisco, “U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid,” June 15, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/15/us/politics/trump-cyber-russia-grid.html?searchResultPosition=1)

In the past few months, Cyber Command’s resolve has been tested. For the past year, energy companies in the United States and oil and gas operators across North America discovered their networks had been examined by the same Russian hackers who successfully dismantled the safety systems in 2017 at Petro Rabigh, a Saudi petrochemical plant and oil refinery. The question now is whether placing the equivalent of land mines in a foreign power network is the right way to deter Russia. While it parallels Cold War nuclear strategy, it also enshrines power grids as a legitimate target. “We might have to risk taking some broken bones of our own from a counterresponse, just to show the world we’re not lying down and taking it,” said Robert P. Silvers, a partner at the law firm Paul Hastings and former Obama administration official. “Sometimes you have to take a bloody nose to not take a bullet in the head down the road.”