Ukraine conflict with Russia speeds up US cyber agenda

The seal of the United States Department of State is seen in Washington, US, January 26, 2017. (File photo by Reuters)

The United States government agencies have expedited their investments in cybersecurity amid rising fears that Washington's support for the Kiev government in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia could have serious repercussions for Washington, including cyberattacks on government agencies and critical infrastructure belonging to the US.

US federal agencies have invested millions in cyber technology, seized and sanctioned Russian platforms and issued almost weekly warnings on the latest cyber risks threatening the nation in the months since the conflict in eastern Ukraine started.

America's Congress has stepped up its efforts, as well, with lawmakers introducing several cyber-related bills and the passage of a new legislation requiring companies in critical sectors to report significant cyberattacks within 72 hours and ransomware payments within 24 hours.

“The war in Ukraine is sort of a focusing event for getting some legislative initiative and momentum, and getting some public support that this is an issue that their representatives should care about,” said Jason Blessing, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, as quoted by the Hill.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been among the loudest voices warning of Russian cyber aggression toward the US. In a statement to The Hill, he said the resulting urgency and cooperation has strengthened the country’s cyber defenses, even if the attacks have not come to fruition. 

“The possibility that Russia will ramp up its cyber aggression has forced the federal government to grapple seriously with worst-case scenarios, and expedite government and private sector investments in improving our nation’s cybersecurity,” Warner said.

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