Russia may consider conducting a cyberattack on the U.S. homeland if Moscow perceived that a U.S. or NATO response to a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine "threatened [Russia's] long-term national security," according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence bulletin obtained by CNN.
"Russia maintains a range of offensive cybertools that it could employ against U.S. networks — from low-level denials-of-service to destructive attacks targeting critical infrastructure," says the Jan. 23 memo, which DHS distributed to critical infrastructure operators and state and local governments.
DHS analysts assess that Moscow's threshold for conducting disruptive or destructive cyberattacks on the U.S. homeland "probably remains very high," the memo says. "We have not observed Moscow directly employ these types of cyberattacks against U.S. critical infrastructure — notwithstanding cyberespionage and potential prepositioning operations in the past."
CNN has requested comment from DHS, which regularly distributes intelligence to private firms and state and local governments.
U.S. officials have been preparing for potential retaliatory cyberattacks from the Kremlin as Russia has threatened to invade Ukraine by amassing some 100,000 troops along the Ukraine border. The Treasury Department held a classified briefing that covered the issue for big U.S. banks, while the Energy Department has briefed America's largest electric utilities on Russian cybercapabilities, CNN previously reported.
Ukraine last week was hit by a suspected Russian cyberattack that splashed a warning across government websites to "be afraid and expect the worst," while Russia released pictures of more of its forces on the move, Newsmax reported.
The Biden administration has threatened to respond with sanctions that would severely hurt the Russian economy — something that has increased concern about potential cyberattacks on the U.S.
Intelligence leaders have said that sanctions, indicting hackers, and ejecting Moscow’s diplomats over past attacks have failed to discourage Russian cyberespionage operations or criminal ransomware attacks, Politico reported.
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