In the latest startling revelation that the US and Russia are ever closer to a state of, if not “kinetic”, then certainly cyberwar, overnight NBC reported that U.S. military hackers had penetrated Russia’s electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin’s command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary. As noted earlier, American officials have long accused Russia, China and other nations of probed probing and leaving hidden malware on parts of U.S critical infrastructure, “preparing the battlefield,” in military parlance, for cyber attacks that could turn out the lights or turn off the internet across major cities.
What has been less noted is that the US has done exactly the same thing and as NBC wrote, “it’s been widely assumed that the U.S. has done the same thing to its adversaries. The documents reviewed by NBC News — along with remarks by a senior U.S. intelligence official — confirm that, in the case of Russia.”
But it’s not just infrastructure that is threatened: the story coming out just three days before the election was hardly a coincidence as NBC said that U.S. officials again expressed concern that Russia will use its cyber capabilities to try to disrupt next week’s presidential election, even though all such allegations of Russian mingling in the U.S. political cycle have so far remained unconfirmed.
In any case, Russia responded to the report, and said that it expects Washington to provide an explanation if it is indeed true that Pentagon hackers have penetrated Russia’s power grids, telecommunications networks, and the Kremlin’s command systems for a possible sabotage.
Regarding the recent media reports that US military hackers have penetrated Russian’s telecommunications networks and electric grid, as well as “the Kremlin’s command systems”, we expect a response from the US authorities, including the White House and the Department of State with a legal assessment of the reports.
On Sunday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that “if no official reaction from the American administration follows, it would mean state cyberterrorism exists in the US. If the threats of the attack, which were published by the US media, are carried out, Moscow would be justified in charging Washington.”
She added that “the absence of an official reaction from the US Administration will signify the existence of state cyberterrorism in the United States, and in case the threats related via the US media are executed, Moscow will have full authority to bring charges against Washington.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also commented on the report, saying Russia had “cybersecurity measures taken at the level proper for the current situation, and the threats voiced against us by officials of other nations.”
The NBC report tops a frenzied news cycle escalation of accusations involving Russian cyberespionage, including allegations by Hillary Clinton that Moscow engaged in hacking to damage her bid for the White house. Though neither she, nor US intelligence services, have provided any proof, the Democrat candidate accused the Kremlin of hacking into the Democrats’ computer networks and publishing sensitive information in order to swing the election in favor of her GOP rival, Donald Trump. She has also claimed that Russia had supplied the whistleblower website WikiLeaks with emails hacked from the account of her campaign chair, John Podesta, something which Julian Assange recently denied in public for the first time.
Russia has repeatedly denied the accusations, asserting that it has no interest in influencing the election and questioning whether such publications would even have a major impact on how Americans would vote. No hard evidence of the alleged Russian hack has ever been made public, despite media reports claiming that US intelligence communities are “convinced” of the Kremlin’s guilt. The idea that Russia is trying to harm the US through hacking and needs to be deterred is “preposterous,” American private investigator and writer Charles Ortel told RT.
“Hillary is a master. Back in the days when her husband was under threat, she suggested that there was a vast right-wing conspiracy. Now there is supposed to be a vast crazy conspiracy involving the FBI and Russia. It’s just fantasy land to me,” he said.
Ironically, so far the only country with a record of conducting cyber-attacks on other nations is the US itself RT points out. An operation called ‘Olympic Games,’ which was reportedly conducted by the US in corroboration with Israel, involved infecting the computer networks of Iranian uranium enrichment facilities with a computer virus that affected industrial controllers of centrifuges in order to destroy them.
The operation significantly damaged Iran’s production of nuclear fuel at the Natanz site. Washington decided to go public about it after the virus, dubbed Stuxnet by the IT community, escaped and was identified by major cybersecurity companies.
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