August 16, 2022

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US supporting Ukraine against Russia with cyber attacks

America’s keyboard warriors are doing their part to help Ukraine in its war against Russia, the head of US Cyber Command confirmed this week.

“We’ve conducted a series of operations across the full spectrum; offensive, defensive, [and] information operations,” Gen. Paul Nakasone told Sky News in an interview published Wednesday, the first confirmation that the US is waging digital conflict against Moscow in support of the Kyiv government.

Nakasone, who also serves as director of the National Security Agency, did not reveal details of the cyber hacking operations, but did tell the outlet that they were lawful and conducted with civilian oversight. 

“My job is to provide a series of options to the secretary of defense and the president, and so that’s what I do,” he said. 

It is unclear when the operations began or how many have occurred since Russia began its assault on Ukraine Feb. 24.

US Cyber Command head Gen. Paul Nakasone said the US has engaged in the “full spectrum” of operations against Russia.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

When asked for comment, the Department of Defense directed The Post to a posture statement Nakasone made to Congress in April in which he touted so-called “hunt forward” operations, which allow the US to identify foreign hackers and their tools before an attack.

“When Moscow ordered the invasion in late February, we stepped up an already high operational tempo. We have been conducting additional hunt forward operations to identify network vulnerabilities,” the Cyber Command chief told lawmakers at the time.

“These operations have bolstered the resilience of Ukraine and our NATO Allies and partners,” Nakasone added. “We provided remote analytic support to Ukraine and conducted network defense activities aligned to critical networks from outside Ukraine – directly in support of mission partners. In conjunction with interagency, private sector and Allied partners, we are collaborating to mitigate threats to domestic and overseas systems.”

Viasat
The US has accused Russia of attacking Ukraine’s Viasat network, which cut off internet access to thousands of Ukrainians.
REUTERS

US Cyber Command did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment. 

The US government has long warned of Russian cyberattacks against America and its allies. 

In March, President Biden warned US companies to tighten their digital defenses due to “evolving intelligence” that indicated Russia could launch various cyberattacks in retaliation for US sanctions imposed in response to the Ukraine invasion. 

On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that potential Russian cyber hacking operations would likely become “more destructive as the war keeps going poorly for them.”

“We’ve seen the Russian government taking specific preparatory steps towards potential destructive attacks both here and abroad,” Wray said during a cybersecurity conference held at Boston College

The FBI head also revealed that the FBI has been on a “combat tempo” with a 24/7 command post to tackle potential Russian hacking threats. 

“We remain vigilant every single day. Every single day. I think about it all the time,” Nakasone told Sky News when asked about the risk of an intrusion. “This is why we’re working with a series of partners to ensure we prevent that, not only against the United States but against our allies as well.” 

While there have not been any publicized or known Russian cyberattacks against the US since the start of the invasion, Ukraine has repeatedly been hit by its eastern neighbor. 

Most notably, the US has accused Russia of carrying out a cyberattack against the Viasat KA-SAT network, cutting off internet access for thousands of Ukrainians.