The United States Cyber Command has made a number of incursions into Russia’s electrical infrastructure in recent months, according to a new report in The New York Times.
Officials the publication spoke with described the moves as a warning to Russia that the US is willing to operate more aggressively in this arena to deter potential cyberattacks.
According to the Times, “officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets.”
One senior intelligence official told the Times that “it has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year,” and that they are “doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”
The efforts amount to what is described as a “persistent presence” within Russia’s infrastructure, and there is no indication that the US has actually launched any sort of attack.
Officials tell the Times that the US has been probing the country’s electrical grid since 2012, and that those efforts have stepped up significantly in recent months, sending “potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before.”
US officials have spoken about the need to be able to launch a cyberattack against the Russian government if the need arises. The Times says that Cyber Command didn’t outline what actions it had specifically undertaken with its newfound authorization.
It also notes that the agency can undertake operations with authorization from the Secretary of Defense, without the approval of the President.