Russia also stepping up cyberattacks against U.S. targets as Obama considers new sanctions

( While the Chinese have been identified as having waged increasingly devastating cyber assaults against the United States in recent years, Beijing is by far not the only nation-state looking to pry open U.S. computer systems: Russia has also stepped up its cyberattacks against American government and corporate targets, especially after the Obama Administration imposed economic sanctions in 2014, in response to Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine and the Crimea.

As reported by the website ValueWalk Obama Administration officials, including National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel, have, in recent weeks, visited Beijing for diplomatic discussions ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s planned U.S. visit. On the agenda: potential sanctions for China’s hacking of Sony, the Office of Personnel Management, and thousands of other instances targeting U.S. financial and other infrastructure.

But Russia is quickly catching up to China’s level of activity. According to cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, more than 10,000 cyberattacks against U.S. targets have originated from Russia in recent months, a dramatic increase compared to the same period last year, ValueWalk reported. Last year, the same firm detected only a few dozen cyber assaults per month emanating from Russia.

The uptick in cyber incidents is likely due in large part to the imposition of U.S. sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the Ukrainian civil war in the eastern portion of the country, experts say.

“Another cybersecurity firm, FireEye, detected evidence that indicate that Russia has been carrying out campaigns to gather intelligence against the U.S. since 2007, before the ‘reset’ relations between Washington and Moscow,” ValueWalk reported.

Reuters reported that the Obama Administration is also contemplating further sanctions against Moscow for its increased cyber assaults.

U.S. officials, who spoke on anonymity, said that no decision had been made as of early September over concerns that sanctions would further strain relations between Washington and Moscow. Officials said the Obama Administration had similar concerns regarding Chinese sanctions, especially ahead of Xi’s visit, Reuters reported.

Cybersecurity was a major topic of discussion between China and the United States during the June Strategic and Economic Dialogue, where some of the top financial and foreign policy officials in the two governments gather.

“The United States, as we all know, has sharp disagreements with China over its actions in cyber space,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters. “We have remained deeply concerned about Chinese government-sponsored cyber-enabled theft of confidential business information and proprietary technology from U.S. companies.”

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