U.S. officials on Friday urged U.S. companies to brace for a potential Russian computer hack as tensions escalate over the Kremlin’s threat to build up troops on Ukraine’s borders.
“I can’t emphasize this enough: We encourage our private sector partners to develop incident response plans and implement cybersecurity protections such as encryption and multi-factor authentication that make cyberattacks even more difficult for experienced cyberattacks,” a White House spokesman said. . This was reported to journalists by security adviser Ann Neuberger.
The Russians hacked into key Ukrainian banking and government websites this week, Neuberger said, adding that the Kremlin appeared to be preparing for further cyber activities to destabilize Ukraine in the event of an invasion.
Neuberger and other US officials have said they do not have credible intelligence that points to specific cyberattacks planned by Russia. There is a large network of government-backed and criminal hackers in Moscow that have successfully attacked individuals, businesses and government agencies in recent years.
A Department of Homeland Security official on Friday also warned government agencies and businesses to be on the lookout for cyberattacks.
“Our networks and our critical infrastructure are integrated into the larger global cyber ecosystem, which means we all need to be prepared,” said Jan Easterly, a senior cyber defense official in the department. panel discussion with Aspen Institute. “As I like to say, shields up.”
Warnings come since Moscow is conducting so-called false flag operations as a pretext for a lightning offensive against Ukraine. The Kremlin has amassed more than 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders. While US and other Western officials are pinning their hopes on diplomacy, they have stressed over the past few days that they believe an invasion is imminent.