Russian army developing cyberattack defenses

The Russian Defense Ministry seeks to create a special network command that will keep track of potential cyber threats. Source: RIA Novosti / Sergei Pivovarov

The Russian Defense Ministry seeks to create a special network command that will keep track of potential cyber threats. Source: RIA Novosti / Sergei Pivovarov

With cyber viruses posing a threat to state networks, the Russian Ministry of Defense has decided to create a specialized network command to protect the information structures of the Russian state.

Experts say cyber viruses are no longer a threat only to home networks, but are increasingly being used as dangerous weapons aimed at state networks. In this context, the Russian Ministry of Defense has decided to create a specialized network command to protect the information structures of the Russian state.

According to media reports, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently gave the General Staff several months to complete proposals for the creation of an army “cyber command.”

With reference to its sources in the Russian General Staff, Izvestiareported that, if the proposal is presented on time, a basic-level cyber command will appear by the end of the year.

“But, in any case, this won’t be some enormous bureaucratic military office with a bunch of rights and no liabilities,” Izvestiaquoted its source as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin previously ordered the Federal Security Service to protect the information structures of Russian state authorities against possible network attacks.

This is nothing new for the armies of developed nations. Back in 2007, the U.S. Air Force established a temporary, special command responsible for dealing with “hostilities” in the global network. Currently, America operates a permanent, unified command named USCYBERCOM (United States Cyber Command), which is subordinate to United States Strategic Command and is responsible for the use of strategic nuclear forces, ABM systems and space operations.

This was a far-sighted decision by the U.S. military. The network covers all continents and currently identifies the key parameters for the operation of modern society — from the payment of wages to the control of troops. There is already a “Matrix” that is involved in the takeoff and landing of every plane, the operation of every industrial facility and transfer of any army unit. Control of this network is virtually priceless.

According to recent reports, the U.S. plans to increase the USCYBERCOM staff to 5,000 specialists.

“You can’t do without adequate protection of cyberspace at the state level," said the head of EEMEA Research Center at Kaspersky Lab, Sergei Novikov, in an interview with Voice of Russia radio station. "In the past two or three years, computer viruses have reached a whole new level of national security and cyber wars. Computer viruses are no longer those infecting home computers, but a serious threat to crucial state facilities."

"The high-profile cyber scandals of the last two or three years include the Stuxnet worm, Duqu, Flame and Gauss Trojans," he added. "These are examples of cyber weapons that countries use against each other.”

“Stuxnet is an example of a malicious code targeted exclusively against critical infrastructure —specifically, uranium enrichment facilities,” Novikov said. According to him, Stuxnet was the first case ever to involve viruses and malicious codes targeted at critical infrastructure.

It was not the last case, however. Kaspersky Lab has recently identified a purely cyber-espionage virus dubbed Red October, which attacked networks of government agencies and defense research centers around the globe.

“The current level of development in telecommunications, electronics and computer software — and their growing role in the management of infrastructure and social systems, on the one hand, and the vast potential for the creation of malicious software, on the other — call for efforts to take information security to a new systemic level," said Dmitry Troshin, a research associate at the Institute for Economic Security and Strategic Planning at the Finance University.

"This level envisages the capability to repel cyber sabotage, cyber terrorism and, ultimately, cyber warfare,” he added.

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