It has always been thought that if Putin turns his attention to the United States or its allies, Russia will use its cyber arsenal to retaliate for the impact of sanctions on its economy. But after eight weeks of conflict, there have been no major cyberattacks, apart from the usual background noise of daily cyber activity that occurs on US networks, such as malware attacks.
US authorities have warned financial firms, utility companies and other companies for six months to prepare, and there is mounting evidence that US Cyber Command and its counterparts in the UK and elsewhere have taken modest precautionary measures against Russia’s most active intelligence agency in cyberspace.
Chris Inglis, the first US National Director of the Internet, said Wednesday at an event organized by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Inglis claimed that US government agencies and companies received ample “strategic warning” and were in a much better position to fend off or recover from such attacks than they were a year ago.
But despite all these threats, the position of the United States has been to increase the pressure on Putin: from sanctions, to diplomatic marginalization, to supplying the Ukrainian army with more powerful weapons. “Ukraine has already won the Battle of Kyiv,” a government official commented, adding that the government “will continue to provide Ukraine with plenty of weapons, training and intelligence work” so it can “continue to win.”
It is not clear whether the Ukrainians will continue to win now that the battle has shifted away from the streets of metropolitan Kyiv to the more famous terrain of the Donbass region.
Nor is it possible to know exactly what will compel the government to back off the increasingly harsh pressure on Russia.