NEW YORK – Russia’s widespread cyberattacks are part of a technique to destabilize Ukraine before a possible invasion, according to U.S. government officials, who are bracing for possible cyberattacks in the United States.
If Russia mounts cyberattacks against the United States, the targets could include banks, power plants, water treatment facilities, and communications. Cyber experts say Russia has the capability to disable or destroy U.S. satellites. Those attacks could also impact GPS for navigation, farming, automation, and oil exploration.
“Our food supply, things that have to do with our power supply, utilities,” cybersecurity expert Ian Marlow said. “Utilities have been brought down and then you don’t have service.”
“There are many things that companies are able to do in order to circumvent these issues, which are, quite honestly, not that difficult to put in,” he said. “They’re readily available to small, medium, and large size companies. You just have to be proactive.”
“New York state is a leader in the finance, healthcare, energy, and transportation sectors,” Hochul said. “Our state is an attractive target for cybercriminals and foreign adversaries.”
Newsweek magazine reports that the FBI has warned U.S. businesses to be prepared and on the lookout for possible cyberattacks by Russia. Government agencies are also on alert. “There [are] warning signs that can be taken and you can typically thwart many of the things that occur during the times that the warning signs are occurring,” Marlow said.
Some experts do not think Russia would risk drawing the U.S. into a cyberwar but also say this type of conflict can quickly get out of control.
Will sanctions hurt Russia?
Shocked by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to deploy troops to Ukraine breakaway regions, world leaders moved quickly Tuesday to impose as forceful a response as possible in hopes of averting a full-blown war in Europe.
Germany made the first big move, taking steps to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia — a lucrative deal long sought by Moscow, but criticized by the U.S. for increasing Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies.
Statement from Gov. Kathy Hochul
“In light of current geopolitical uncertainty, earlier today I convened cabinet members from relevant areas to review our ongoing cybersecurity preparedness efforts and make sure that New Yorkers, our institutions, and our critical infrastructure are protected from cyber-facilitated disruptions. We are in regular touch with the White House and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ensure coordination.
“The reality is that because New York State is a leader in the finance, healthcare, energy, and transportation sectors, our state is an attractive target for cyber criminals and foreign adversaries.
“My Administration has taken significant steps to prepare for what have become increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, including my recent budget proposal to invest $62 million in our cybersecurity protections, which is more than double from last year. Cabinet leaders will continue reviewing their cyber-risk management readiness and communicate with relevant industry and government partners to ensure threat intelligence is being relayed as quickly as possible.
“It is my top priority to keep New Yorkers safe, and we will remain vigilant by continuing to monitor for threats and ramping up our cybersecurity shields as necessary.
“New Yorkers should also remember they are vulnerable to cyberattacks on their personal devices, and I encourage them to use best practices around passwords and multi-factor authentication, and to make sure that older loved ones are protected from scams.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.