The Kremlin on Monday warned that reported US digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid could trigger a “cyberwar” between the two countries.
The warning came two days after The New York Times reported that the US Cyber Command, the arm of the Pentagon that runs the military’s offensive and defensive operations in the online world, was aggressively stepping up its targeting of Russia’s grid. Saturday’s report said the command had taken steps to place “potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before.” In some cases, the NYT reported, Pentagon and intelligence officials have been hesitant to brief President Trump in detail about the activities out of concern he might countermand the operations or discuss them with foreign officials. Last year, Trump gave the Cyber Command more leeway to conduct offensive online operations, the publication said.
Some analysts have cast doubt on the NYT reporting that the United States has put implants inside Russia’s grid, and the publication was clear it had no classified information detailing how deep into Russia’s power infrastructure the US has bored. The report, however, was enough to get the attention of Kremlin officials, who pushed back in a post published Monday by the TASS news agency, which is owned by the Russian government.