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America Planted Malware In Russia’s Power Grid, Says NYT

“The U.S. military’s Cyber Command has gotten more aggressive than ever against Russia in the past year, placing ‘potentially crippling malware’ in systems that control the country’s electrical grid,” according to CNET, citing a report in the New York Times:

Made possible by little-noticed legal authority granted last summer by Congress, Cyber Command’s strategy shift from a defensive to offensive posture is meant in part as a warning shot, but it’s also designed to enable paralysing cyberattacks in the event of a conflict, The New York Times said Saturday, quoting unnamed officials… [T]he recent moves appear to have taken place under a military authorization bill Congress passed in 2018 that gives the go-ahead for “clandestine military activity” in cyberspace to “deter, safeguard or defend against attacks or malicious cyberactivities against the United States….”

The Times said Cyber Command is concerned Russia could trigger selective power outages in key states during the 2020 election and that it needs a way to discourage such attacks. But the agency and the U.S. have to consider their moves carefully in this international game of cyberchess. “The question now is whether placing the equivalent of land mines in a foreign power network is the right way to deter Russia,” the Times report says. “While it parallels Cold War nuclear strategy, it also enshrines power grids as a legitimate target….”

In related news, Bloomberg reported Friday that a Russia-linked hacking group that shut down an oil and gas facility in Saudi Arabia in 2017 has been probing utilities in the U.S. since late last year.


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