The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning that Russia may pursue a cyberattack against the U.S. as tensions escalate over Moscow’s buildup of forces near the border with Ukraine.
The DHS bulletin, dated Sunday, outlined that Russia could launch such an attack if it perceived any U.S. or NATO response to be a threat to its own national security.
“We assess that Russia would consider initiating a cyber attack against the Homeland if it perceived a US or NATO response to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine threatened its long-term national security,” the agency said in the bulletin released to law enforcement partners obtained by The Hill and first reported by CNN.
Russia has a number of cyber tools it could use to attack the U.S., ranging from “low-level denials-of-service to destructive attacks targeting critical infrastructure.” The bulletin says Russia “almost certainly considers cyber attacks an acceptable option to respond to adversaries” because it lacks the ability to respond with the economic and diplomatic options often preferred by other countries.
The Sunday bulletin noted Russian military assets have also launched attacks in Ukraine, pointing to attacks on the former Soviet state’s power grid in both 2015 and 2016.
“We assess that Russia’s threshold for conducting disruptive or destructive cyber attacks in the Homeland probably remains very high and we have not observed Moscow directly employ these types of cyber attacks against US critical infrastructure—notwithstanding cyber espionage and potential prepositioning operations in the past,” the bulletin said.
Updated Jan. 25 at 3:43 p.m.