A cybersecurity executive told Fox News this week that cyberattacks on various American targets originating from Russia have been well tested and pose an immediate threat to national security.
Tom Kelly is CEO of IDX, a cybersecurity and breach response firm. He warned that as the invasion of Ukraine continues, Russia has already proven its ability to infiltrate and attack multiple U.S. information systems. He pointed out that they have established that power with SolarWinds in technology, Colonial Pipeline in energy and other industries “across the board.”
Kelly said that as the situation in Ukraine deteriorates, he believes the risk of more involved cyberattacks is growing.
Cyberattacks are becoming more integral to modern warfare tactics, as they can be used against core infrastructures to disable utility systems and supply chains. Widespread attacks on communication systems are also possible through effective cyberattacks.
Kelly warned that many types of cyberattacks are at least as destructive as physical attacks and present “great dangers for the escalation of conflict.” He said that it is “hard to imagine” any part of our infrastructure that is not a target for possible cyberattacks.
As an example, he cited SolarWinds as an intelligence attack that America knows “in fact” was conducted by Russia. Referring to the attack on the Colonial Pipeline, he said we could “forget about the price” if we cannot get any gas at all.
The hacking of the Colonial Pipeline system last year created temporary gas shortages in the eastern part of the country by disrupting a pipeline transporting gasoline from Texas refineries up through the Northeast. The FBI eventually connected the attack to a criminal operation known as “DarkSide” operating out of Russia.
Kelly pointed to the attack as evidence that “every pump we have” is connected to a network that can be disrupted.
Hackers also temporarily shut down an American meatpacking plant last year. The White House later confirmed that the attack was executed by a criminal organization based in Russia.
Kelly noted that the U.S. has capabilities to defend against attacks, but cybersecurity requires immediate attention and focus. He noted that in the Colonial Pipeline attack the government was able to improve security as a result and also tracked down some of the cryptocurrency paid to the hackers as ransom. The Justice Department announced that it was able to seize around $2.3 million in Bitcoin paid to DarkSide.