US, Russia, fight cyber war

In response to WikiLeaks email revelations targeting Hillary Clinton, the Obama administration prepares retaliatory cyber attack on Russia.

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At the request of the Obama administration, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is reportedly preparing a major cyber attack against Russia. The retaliatory attack comes in the wake of reported theft by Russian hackers of records from the Democratic National Committee and its affiliates.

US Vice President Joe Biden told NBC News the US would be "sending a message" to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also added cyber action will come "at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact."

According to NBC, intelligence officials have been asked to think of ideas for a "clandestine" cyber operation to "embarrass" the Kremlin.

“The sources did not elaborate on the exact measures the CIA was considering, but said the agency had already begun opening cyber doors, selecting targets and making other preparations for an operation,” stated the report.

"We've always hesitated to use a lot of stuff we've had, but that's a political decision," a former CIA officer told NBC. "If someone has decided: `We've had enough of the Russians,' there is a lot we can do. Step one is to remind them that two can play at this game and we have a lot of stuff. Step two, if you are looking to mess with their networks, we can do that, but then the issue becomes, they can do worse things to us in other places.”

The White House is apparently aiming to match the severity of the WikiLeaks revelations.

However, care must be taken not to escalate the situation too much, as any attack on Russia is liable to evoke a similar retaliatory attack on the US. As a result, it is likely the cyber attack will be aimed at Putin himself and not at Russia as a whole.

Sean Kanuck, former senior U.S. intelligence official responsible for analyzing Russian cyber capabilities, said that there would be a price to not responding to the hacks.

"If you publicly accuse someone," he said, "and don't follow it up with a responsive action, that may weaken the credible threat of your response capability."

But former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell thinks it is unlikely the US will actually carry out an attack.

“Physical attacks on networks is not something the U.S. wants to do because we don’t want to set a precedent for other countries to do it as well, including against us,” said Morell. “My own view is that our response shouldn’t be covert — it should be overt, for everybody to see.”

Last week, the US released an official statement blaming the WikiLeaks revelations on Russia. According to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, the hacks were planned by Putin to aid rival Republican candidate Donald Trump in his election campaign.

"We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities," the statement said.

Putin has said several times that if Clinton is elected, there will be a (possibly nuclear) war.

However, Putin said that the one who released the information does not matter. Rather, it's "what's inside the information that matters."

"Hysteria started over the [allegation] that this is in the interests of Russia,” Putin added, according to the Interfax news agency. “But nothing in it is in the interests of Russia, while the hysteria is merely caused by the fact that somebody needs to divert the attention of the American people from the essence of what was exposed by the hackers."








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