It was recently revealed that Russia has dumped 85% of their T-bills. They seem to be in a sudden hurry to divest themselves of their US based investments. While this is a concern, especially if other nations follow, there’s a more sinister component to this.
It’s also been recently revealed that the Russian’s have been hacking various utilities and infrastructure here domestically. At least, we’re told it’s the Russians. But there is some proof to back this up. Several cyber security firms have captured screen shots of Russian hackers attempts to map systems of power plants, water companies and other industrial targets.
In 2015 and 2016 Russian hackers attacked power generation in Ukraine leaving more than 200,000 people without power for short periods. While these cyber strikes were not all that significant in duration or disruption, they were massive successes in proof of concept. Hackers were able to penetrate the networks and take control of devices at the system level. This is a very dangerous and worrisome development.
Cyber security firms in the US have been tracking attacks from Russian since 2011. Initial hacks were probing the company structures and were thought to be industrial espionage. But with recent attacks moving into the hardware that controls various machines in these facilities, the Russian’s are clearly sending a message that they can inflict damage should they so choose.
As the media calls everyday for more anti-Russian moves in the US, the US Navy is reactivating the US Second Fleet that was decommissioned in 2011. This is a Cold War left over that focused on keeping tabs on the Russian Navy. With a sudden spike in Russian submarine activity, the Navy feels the move is warranted.
The Russian submarine forces have had valuable opportunities recently for real-life exercises in a tactical environment, thanks to Syria. Russian subs have conducted cruise missile strikes against ISIS targets in Syria several times over the last couple of years. While the strikes weren’t substantive enough to turn the tide, they were immense opportunities for training and all were successful.
While the media howls daily that Russia is the root of all evil, we must keep some perspective. In 2015 the US hacked Iranian infrastructure to leave backdoors and other digital triggers in place to disrupt their operations in the event hostilities broke out. Then, there was Stuxnet in 2005.
Stuxnet was a very complex virus designed to target PLC, or programable logic controllers. It was designed in such a way that it would not affect any other system, waiting to find the one it was looking for. The weapon was used against the Iranian uranium enrichment facilities to destroy the centrifuges that performed the enrichment.
The facilities have very high levels of security and getting the virus in was the difficult part. The virus was deployed in the areas around the enrichment facilities where it moved from device to device, lap tops, cell phones and the like, looking for its target until it was finally carried into one of them by an unknowing individual who probably took a lap top home to get some extra work done.
The results were devastating. The virus took control of the speed controllers of the centrifuges and sped them up until they destroyed themselves. Technicians at the sites were unable to stop the process once it started and thousands of centrifuges were destroyed. The attack set the Iranian enrichment project back several months.
We, the United States of America, are doing and have conducted the same types of operations that we’re accusing the Russian’s of. Whether it be cyber-attacks, election meddling, naval attacks via cruise missiles, we’ve done it all. This is not to condone the activities of the Russian’s, simply to say, we’re doing the exact same thing.
The US government takes the moral high ground that everything they do is right and proper. Any other nation that conducts the very same activities is seen as an aggressor. It’s all about perspective. From our point of view, we are right, and our activities are noble. The problem with that line of thinking is, the Russian’s think the very same thing.