by Martin Berger, New Eastern Outlook:
It’s curious that even The Guardian has recently summarized Trump’s one year in office by admitting that the overwhelming impression everybody shares is not of steady progress but chaos, adding that he has almost pushed the world into a major nuclear conflict.
However, Trump’s inching towards assured mutual distraction manifests itself vivdly in the open aggravation of relations with Russia, while he is being assisted by the ever-Russophobic Britain that was all too happy to unleash a propaganda war against Moscow together with Washington, that was quickly follow by a major cyber offensive.
On April 6, 2018, a massive hacker attack began against Cisco switches, which led to entire segments of the Internet going down. According to the conclusions of Kaspersky Lab, Russia was the primarily target of these attacks. It’s reported that an unknown group of hackers would use a bot to rewrite the image of Cisco IOS on the switches and change the configuration file, leaving a message that reads “Do not mess with our elections”. This can be regarded as a clear indication of who was behind the attack. This attack was made possible by a vulnerability in a piece of software called Cisco Smart Install Client, which allowed cybercriminals to run arbitrary code on vulnerable switches, which resulted in entire data centers in Russia going down, rendering highly popular media platforms for considerable period of time inaccessible almost overnight.
At the same time, more than 240 banks based in Russia came under attack by the Cobalt Strike virus, as it’s been announced by the Russian authorities, which allowed the hackers to steal more than 20 million dollars in the course of this one attack.
In October 2017, a new ransomware virus would block thousands of computers across Russia by encrypting all files on them by overwriting a kernel’s session security context to enable it to launch remote services. According to the Daily Beast reports, this latest piece of ransomware known as Bad Rabbit would use a backdoor created by the NSA that would allow the virus to enjoy rapid distribution across the net. The Newsweek would add that the FBI hacked computers in more than a hundred countries, and it turns out one of those was Russia.
The recent presidential election in Russia has been marked by an unprecedented number of attempts to delegitimize the Russian government through cyberattacks in order to influence the outcome of the election and steal the subsequent socio-political processes. Attempts to undermine the legitimacy of sovereign governments has been one of Washington’s key strategies for decades which would allow it to create “puppet” regimes through staging all sorts of “color revolutions” and it’s no wonder that Russia came under similar attacks.
It’s noteworthy that according to various reports the number of hacker attacks on Russia’s tech sector aimed at compromising credentials increased by four times in 2017 compared to 2016. There’s been an abrupt increase in malicious activities of Western intelligence services trying to plant malicious code in the IT infrastructure of Russia’s government bodies.
The trend makes the recent statement made by the new head of the NSA, Paul M. Nakasone, who officially pledged to turn cyber capabilities he was entrusted with into first strike weapons particularly worrisome, especially in the light of his confession that it will be directed against the Russian Federation, marking a new low in the global aggravation. At the same time, we must not forget that it was Lieutenant-General Paul Nakasone who was at the helm of the US Army Cyber Command that was tasked with tracking and collecting information for the needs of the US government for years, acquiring profiles of every person on the face of the planet who has ever used e-mail, Internet or cell phone. However, Washington is not alone in unleashing a full-out cyberwar against Russia, as it actively encourages its allies to do so.
According to British media reports, the UK has developed sophisticated cyberweapons capable of crippling a hostile state. The Times would tell us that the capabilities developed by London allow it to make another country’s warplanes, ships and missiles malfunction and to infect a mobile phone to suck up information or wipe the memory.
It would go even further by nothing that:
In November 2016 the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ publicly admitted a National Offensive Cyber Programme exists. Robert Hannigan, the former director of GCHQ, recently said in an interview that the nation has “pretty sophisticated” tools at its disposal.
A prominent role in this ongoing cyberwar against Russia is being assigned to the Baltic states in general and Norway in particular. Thus, Norwegian and American intelligence agencies have been working together for a long time, making attempts to hack Russian communication networks to obtain intelligence data on the Russian government circles. For a while, there’s been no official confirmation that Norwegian military intelligence launches hacker attacks against Russia to collect intelligence information. But then the information about the ongoing anti-Russian cyber espionage was confirmed by a report issued by the NSA on the state of cooperation with Norwegian military intelligence. A member of the Norwegian Institute for Foreign Policy (NUPI), Erik Reichborn-Kjennerud, believes that the data collected by the Norwegians can be used for similar attacks in the future.