Obama’s ‘diplomacy-dominated’ Russia policy downplays Moscow’s highly dangerous cyber activities

(Cyberwar.news) The Obama administration’s diplomacy-heavy foreign policy has led to its failure to highlight Russia’s highly capable and increasingly dangerous cyber activities to the detriment of U.S. national security, according to experts and intelligence officials interviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

In fact, the threat of cyber intelligence-gathering and cyber warfare by Russia against the U.S. is not merely real but pressing, yet Moscow has been allowed to keep its activities largely under wraps because the White House refuses to publicly identify them.

By comparison, some 20 years’ worth of aggressive Chinese military and intelligence cyber attacks and hacking of government and private sector systems that have harmed national security have been given much more public attention, the WFB noted.

The news site reported further:

Less information has been made public about the nature and scope of Russian cyber activities, and the Obama administration has sought to avoid highlighting the threat over concerns doing so would upset its diplomacy-oriented national security strategy. The reliance on diplomatic solutions continues despite a major increase in threatening Russian activities, both cyber and conventional, including military aggression in Europe.

The primary Russian agency that conducts cyber activities and spying is the Federal Security Service, known by the acronym FSB. It closely resembles its Soviet-era predecessor, the KGB. Also, the SVI spy agency and the GRU military intelligence service are two additional main players behind Russia’s aggressive clandestine cyber war activities and intelligence gathering.

“The Russians are so good we don’t usually see them,” James Lewis, a cyber expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Free Beacon, adding that some Russian criminal organizations have better cyber capabilities than most governments.



“The FSB hackers do classic political military espionage, and it’s a tribute to their success that they got into State, DoD and White House networks last year,” Lewis said. “The frightening thing about those incidents is that it may have been practice events for new teams. They really are [our] peers in cyberspace.”

Yet, Obama and his senior staff have made few references to this Russian threat, which have included attacks on unclassified White House networks. Russian hackers were also believed to have penetrated the Joint Chiefs of Staff email system in 2015, forcing a shutdown of the system that lasted for weeks.

In addition, Russian hackers targeted the private email server used by Hillary Clinton while she served as secretary of state, the WFB reported, noting that of the emails released by the State Department as part of an FBI’s investigation, four were identified as fake emails from Russian hackers attempting to penetrate the system.

The WFB noted further:

Russian cyber activities are focused mainly on intelligence gathering and military reconnaissance of critical infrastructure networks as advance work for a future conflict, or what the military calls “preparation of the battle space.”

Last year Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress that Russia had bypassed China as the United States’ principle cyber threat.

“While I can’t go into detail here, the Russian cyber threat is more severe than we had previously assessed,” he said.


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