On Monday, Joe Biden urged private sector partners to strengthen their cyber defenses, citing “evolving intelligence” that suggests Russia might conduct cyber activity against American companies and critical infrastructure. These attacks would be a move of relatiation against the economic sanctions placed on Russia by the US and its NATO allies.

Last week, after months of warning the private sector about the possibility of Russian retaliation, the administration hosted “classified briefings with companies and sectors [they] felt would be most effective and provided very practical, focused advice,” according to the Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, Anne Neuberger. Neuberger also reported that Russia had been conducting “preparatory activity” for cyber attacks, which could include hunting for software vulnerabilities on websites.

Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, Anne Neuberger

While “critical infrastructure” includes sectors like water, energy, healthcare, and financial services – to name a few – Neuberger did not specify which particular area could be targeted by Russia cyberattackers.

Neuberger did note, however, that “there is no certainty there will by a cyber incident on critical infrastructure.”

Now, “evolving intelligence” has caused an increased level of threat to the United States.

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“I have previously warned about the potential that Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the United States, including as a response to the unprecedented economic costs we’ve imposed on Russia alongside our allies and partners,” said Biden in a statement. “It’s part of Russia’s playbook.”

Biden’s statement specified that “the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has been actively working with organizations across critical infrastructure to rapidly share information and mitigation guidance to help protect their systems and networks.”

A professor at the University of Virginia who specialized in cybersecurity, Ryan Wright, warned of serious attacks from Russia which could affect Americans in a very personal way. “[I]t is only a matter of time until the U.S. is targeted more directly,” Wright warns. “This may mean attacks on your personal device through ransomware but also attacks on theinfrastructure such as your internet access or even the power grid.”

Though unlikely that Americans would be individually targeted by Russian cyberattackers, it’s very possible that the effects of a cyberattack can be felt by millions across the country.

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