A RUSSIAN cyberattack could plunge the West into a war, a Nato official has warned.
It’s feared the cyberspace chaos erupting from Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine could spill over into other territories – including the UK.A Russian cyberattack on Ukraine could plunge Britain into war[/caption] Vladimir Putin is waging war against Ukraine[/caption] Both Britain and the US have warned Russia could launch cyberattacks on Ukraine[/caption]
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the UK government expects to see “cyber attacks aimed at the West” as part of Russia’s assault on Ukraine.
And a cyberattack on a Nato member state could trigger Article 5 – its collective defence clause, which was invoked for the first time ever after 9/11.
Nato has made it clear for years that a serious cyberattack could trigger the clause, but such a scenario has so far been hypothetical.
As fighting intensifies on the ground in Ukraine, it’s feared a Russian attack on the country’s cyberspace could spill over into Europe – and lead to the deployment of Nato troops.
The Nato official said: “Allies also recognise that the impact of significant malicious cumulative cyber activities might, in certain circumstances, be considered as an armed attack.
“We will not speculate on how serious a cyberattack would have to be in order to trigger a collective response.
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“Any response could include diplomatic and economic sanctions, cyber measures, or even conventional forces, depending on the nature of the attack.”
But Nato allies would have to make a “political decision” about whether a Russian cyberattack was large enough to trigger Article 5.
Both Britain and the US have warned Russia could launch cyberattacks on Ukraine – which could impact the rest of the world.
US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner said there were no clear guidelines on how Nato should respond to such an attack.
He said: “These are things that have been in hypothetical discussion for a decade, but because we’ve not come to any universal conclusion on what those standards should be, what level of attribution is needed, we’re kind of in a very grey area.”
For example, a Russian cyberattack on Ukraine that impacts Poland – a Nato member state – could prompt the deployment of US troops.
Mr Warner said: “The West may have wanted strategic ambiguity in this area, and that may still be the right choice.
“But have we sufficiently made clear to the Russians the red lines on cyber or frankly to the Nato public, the American public, on red lines on cyber? I don’t think we’ve done that.”
He said he was “pleasantly surprised” a massive Russian cyberattack had not been launched yet.
But he warned that such an attack “becomes even more dangerous with Putin elevating the readiness of his nuclear weapons”.
‘BOLSTER YOUR DEFENCES’
Fears are mounting over the potential for Russia to team up with gangs who release malicious software – such as the malware used to hold Colonial Pipeline to ransom in the US last year.
But hackers from around the world are fighting back and waging a war on Russia’s digital world.
Hacking groups such as Anonymous and the Cyber Partisans have claimed responsibility for a swathe of cyberattacks on Russia’s banks, state-owned media companies, and even a Belarusian rail network.
The cyber groups said they stand with Ukraine against Russia’s powerful online forces – causing disruption to stop attacks against Ukraine and the West.
Anonymous claimed it has carried out 1,500 cyber attacks on the Russian and Belarusian governments over the last three days – including attacks on state systems, banks, and broadcasters.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ, called on British organisations to “bolster their online defences” following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
It said in a statement: “While the NCSC is not aware of any current specific threats to UK organisations in relation to events in and around Ukraine, there has been an historical pattern of cyber attacks on Ukraine with international consequences.”
The warning came after Ukrainian banking and government websites were knocked offline by a spate of attacks which the UK and the US said were carried out by Russian military hackers.
Lithuania’s deputy defence minister said six EU countries would be sending a team of experts to Ukraine to help deal with the cyber threats.
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