US-Russia Cyber Ties and Spies Seen as “Real Threat”
Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the new US Cyber Command, was backing talks with Russia “over a proposal to limit military attacks in cyberspace, representing a significant shift in US policy.”
And just last week, the Associated Press reported that President Obama sat down with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, claiming to have “succeeded in resetting the relationship between the former Cold War adversaries that had dipped to a dangerous low in recent years.”
But today, as news continues to trickle in on the FBI’s Sunday investigation and arrest of [now 11] Russian spies living in Yonkers, Boston and northern Virginia, it appears that the US may need to reexamine its relationship with the ‘Bear’ in the room.
According to the New York Times, living in the States for more than a decade, the deemed “espionage ring” was collecting information on the CIA, US intelligence, nuclear weapons, US ties to Iran and, all the while, recruiting new members into its group.
The article goes on to mention that, “operating under false names outside of diplomatic cover, [the spies] also used cyber-age technology… They embedded coded texts in ordinary-looking images posted on the Internet, and they communicated by having two agents with laptops containing special software pass casually as messages flashed between them.”
Meanwhile, an article from Reuters reports that Oleg Gordievsky, a former Russian national security agent, said Russia has had “dozens and dozens of unofficial spies working in the United States.”
“This is a case of the United States simply telling Russia, ‘For 20 years we have tolerated your activities in our country and we are now saying we are watching you and we will act if you do not stop’,” Gordievsky asserted.
So what does all of this mean for US cybersecurity?
On the topic, Dallas Morning News’ Tod Robberson, in an editorial today, suggested, “We think this is just a bunch of free-enterprise-loving Russian democrats enjoying the good life and making some money by spamming and scamming their way into American computers. We should be very concerned.”
According to Robberson, Obama needs not to mistake “the supposedly democratic Russian leadership as our friend.” Rather, the President should realize it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when America faces its next big cybersecurity crisis...”
Also reporting on the topic, the Wall Street Journal this afternoon advised that “cyber terrorism is now seen as a real threat.” Acknowledging that, while the idea of a Russia-based cyber attack is not new, the article goes on to suggest, “Whatever the alleged Russian agents were up to, there are suggestions that they had access to some relatively sophisticated technology.”