Russia and the West: a New Cold War
Former adviser to British Prime Minister talks about offensive cyber operations in response to attacks from Moscow
Former security adviser to Boris Johnson said the UK recently launched a series of covert cyberattacks against Russian leaders and their interests in response to a cyber attack against the West..
According to representatives of Western intelligence services, the allies of Great Britain, including the United States, are also conducting similar efforts, which indicates an imminent cyber conflict with the Kremlin in the so-called “gray zone” between normal relations and armed conflict..
“Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean we don’t, because we don’t always talk about these things,” Mark Sedwill, who until recently served as the prime minister’s national security adviser, told the Times. British Minister Boris Johnson. At the same time, Sedwill emphasized that Britain is using its offensive cyber capabilities in response to Russian attacks..
“When we consider it right and necessary, we strive to ensure that their actions have consequences, and usually more significant than they expected,” he explained. “We cannot leave the initiative to our opponents”.
The UK has more than a decade of offensive cyber capabilities, which it has used against the Islamic State, including to destroy the group’s primitive drones in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2018. But officials rarely talk about their efforts to conduct or counter cyberattacks, or elaborate on what they consider legitimate targets in the absence of full-scale war..
Last month, General Patrick Sanders, who heads Britain’s Strategic Command, told reporters that the country could theoretically “weaken, undermine and even destroy critical capabilities and infrastructure” of opponents. British military partners with the Government Communications Center (GCHQ), the agency responsible for electronic intelligence.
Sanders said: “The binary distinction between war and peace in his usual sense is no longer relevant.”.
The UK used its offensive cyber capabilities in response to the 2018 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Sedville said..
“After the Salisbury attack, the first case in a century of using chemical weapons against a European country, we have given a visible response. We have expelled the entire Russian intelligence network from the UK, ”he said. “But we also took a number of other precautions, including fighting some illegal cash flows from Russia, as well as covert measures that I certainly cannot talk about.”.
Judging by Sedwill’s comments, the Western powers are becoming more decisive in their “gray war” with Russia, as well as with Iran, China and North Korea. “It is important that we can maneuver in this gray area and do it effectively,” he said..
Last week, the United States announced indictments against six Russian military intelligence officers for a series of cyberattacks aimed at undermining Western democracies. The indictments are the result of lengthy investigations conducted by FBI analysts in collaboration with Google, Cisco, Facebook and Twitter, as well as with allied Western intelligence services, including the UK..
Official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Maria Zakharova categorically denied accusations of hacker attacks.
As noted by the American scientist Thomas Reid, the amount of details in the indictments probably reflects the degree of infiltration of the GRU’s hacking operations. “I suspect that the intelligence communities of the Five Eyes alliance have an extremely detailed understanding of Russian military intelligence operations, if it is considered acceptable to disclose the information that was released to the public today,” he tweeted after the indictments were released..