Acts of War

On 13 July 2018, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced that federal indictments were being issued against 12 Russian military intelligence officers.  [See the full transcript of that announcement by tapping here.]

From the transcript, we are told the following key pieces of information – which I truncate here for brevity.

Eleven defendants – charged with

  1. conspiring to hack into computers
  2. steal documents
  3. releasing stolen documents in an effort to interfere with the [2016] election.

One of those defendants and a twelfth Russian officer  – charged with conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations responsible for administering elections, including –

  1. state boards of election
  2. secretaries of state, and
  3. companies that supply software and other technology used to administer elections.

The defendants worked for two units of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff, known as the GRU.

The units engaged in active cyber operations to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. One GRU unit worked to steal information, while another unit worked to disseminate stolen information.

Two techniques used to steal information.

  1. scam known as “spearphishing,” which involves sending misleading email messages and tricking users into disclosing their passwords and security information.
  2. they hacked into computer networks and installed malicious software that allowed them to spy on users and capture keystrokes, take screenshots, and exfiltrate data.

via Alexandria News | Twelve Russian Intelligence Officers Indicted for Conspiring to Interfere in the 2016 Presidential Election

State boards of election, secretaries of state, and companies that supply voting machines and software – were systematically targeted and infiltrated by Russian military operatives.

Russia has gone further than that. Moving beyond the institutions that work to make elections possible, they also hacked into the computers belonging to some members of the Democrat political party.

I find myself wondering how members of the Republican party remained untouched and unscathed. Frankly, that is not a believable scenario. I do not believe the party would be ignored because Putin supposedly favored Trump over Clinton. I suspect Russia has better uses in mind for information they may have obtained from GOP-member computers. Of course – this is speculation. A reasonable speculation, but completely unsupported by any existing information that I currently possess.

Recapping – Russian military operatives hacked election infrastructure computers and political party computers. And they didn’t stop there, either.

In March, 2018, the Associated Press reported that Russia has also hacked into U.S. power grids. Alerts were issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI.

The government informed electric companies last summer that Russia undertook what DHS calls a “multistage intrusion campaign” against the utilities, using common hacking techniques such as malware and spear-phishing. The hackers were able to to gain access to at least one power plant’s control system.

“They were not simply looking around that system and reconnoitering it,” Joel Brenner, head of counterintelligence under the Director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration, told NPR. “They were placing the tools that they would have to place in order to turn off the power. That’s a serious vulnerability for us, and we’re not anywhere near ready to deal with it.”

via Russia Hacked U.S.Power Grid And Other Critical Infrastructure. So Now What? : NPR (Emphasis Added)

U.S. Power Plants. Election Systems. Political Parties.

These have all been targets
of Russian military operatives.

When military operatives, of any nation, begin invading another nation with malicious intentions to deliberately disrupt that nation’s normal activities, does that constitute war?

And what are effective deterrents towards nations deploying cyber-militias as Russia has clearly done towards the United States?

I won’t pretend to have the answers. I do not. But we, the American people, must ask our election candidates and elected officials if they are asking those questions.


Home British & World English  -cyberwarfare

Definition of cyberwarfare in English:
mass noun
The use of computer technology to disrupt the activities of a state or organization, especially the deliberate attacking of information systems for strategic or military purposes.

‘professional programmers are being hired by governments intent on waging cyberwarfare’

via cyberwarfare | Definition of cyberwarfare in English by Oxford Dictionaries