The United States is under attack.
It is not an attack with missiles, bombs, or soldiers.
It is not a conventional “hot war.”
Yesterday the United States imposed sanctions on 19 Russian individuals and five groups that include Moscow’s intelligence services, for cyber attacks and interfering with the 2016 presidential election.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stated more sanctions will follow but did not say when.
In a statement, Mnuchin said:
“The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in U.S. elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure. These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the nefarious attacks emanating from Russia. Treasury intends to impose additional…sanctions, informed by our intelligence community, to hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilizing activities by severing their access to the US financial system.”
The sanctions target the Russian nationals special council Robert Mueller charged on February 16 for tampering with our elections, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), and six individuals working for GRU.
But hackers successfully infiltrated other critical infrastructure.
A Treasury Department statement asserts:
“[Russian government hackers] have also targeted U.S. government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.”
The alert warned:
“DHS and FBI characterize this activity as a multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors who targeted small commercial facilities’ networks where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing and gained remote access into energy sector networks. After obtaining access, the Russian government cyber actors conducted network reconnaissance, moved laterally, and collected information pertaining to industrial control systems.”
A senior administration speaking on condition of anonymity, said:
“It is the judgment of the DHS than Russian government cyber hackers were behind the hacking of organizations in the energy sector. We were able to identify where they were located within those business systems and remove them from those business systems.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat argued the sanctions do not go far enough given the Russian assault’s scope and impact on the election.
Schiff said in a statement:
“The sanctions today are a grievous disappointment, and fall far short of what is needed to respond to that attack on our democracy, let alone deter Russia’s escalating aggression, which now includes a chemical weapons attack on the soil of our closest ally.”
Schiff added the Obama administration had already authorized many of the sanctions, and argued the new sanctions are simply because of Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Trump ties to Russia.
“It appears that Mr. Mueller is doing more to place consequences on Russia’s behavior than the rest of the administration.”
In January, President Trump refused to implement Russian sanctions Congress compelled him to sign into law.
Image credit: CNN.com