US Justice Department
Braces for More Russian Cyberattacks
June 3, 2022
More than three
months into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the U.S.
Justice Department is girding for more Russian
cyberattacks, the department's top national security
official said Thursday.
"At DOJ, we’re particularly focused right now on the
cyberthreat from Russia," said Matthew Olsen, head of
the Justice Department's National Security Division.
"And we are bracing for the possibility of more
Olsen made the remarks at a conference of the NATO
Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence. The
Tallinn, Estonia-based organization this week approved
Ukraine's bid to join as a "contributing participant."
Olsen's comments echoed repeated warnings by the Biden
administration throughout the Ukraine conflict that
Russia is likely to carry out cyberattacks against the
United States in response to punishing Western sanctions
In March, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and
Infrastructure Security Agency warned about "possible
threats to U.S. and international satellite
The warning came after a purported Russian cyberattack
on U.S.-based telecommunications provider Viasat on
February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine.
The attack left tens of thousands of Viasat's Ukrainian
customers without satellite service.
The attack, Olsen said, was "one of numerous recent
examples" of Russian malicious cyberactivity.
In a massive cyberattack in late 2020, Russian hackers
exploited software developed by U.S.-based SolarWinds
Corporation to compromise the computer networks of
multiple U.S. government agencies and private companies.
In response, the Biden administration last year expelled
10 Russian diplomats and imposed sanctions on several
Russian individuals and entities.
Olsen said the Justice Department is working with other
law enforcement agencies and private companies to
respond to cyberthreats.
"We are determined to hold accountable those who target
and attempt to destroy the computer systems that support
our critical infrastructure," Olsen said.
March, the Justice Department announced criminal charges
against four Russian government employees in connection
with two hacking campaigns that targeted the global
energy sector between 2012 and 2018.
In addition to prosecuting hackers, the Justice
Department has "taken more proactive steps to disrupt
nation-state cyberthreats before a significant attack or
intrusion can occur," Olsen said.
He cited a 2021 court-authorized operation by the
Justice Department to disrupt a Chinese hacking group's
exploitation of vulnerabilities in the Microsoft
Olsen did not say whether the U.S. has taken any
proactive steps against Russian cyber actors during the
Ukraine conflict. But General Paul Nakasone, head of
U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency,
told Sky News on Wednesday that the U.S. had conducted
offensive cyber operations in support of Ukraine during
the three-month-old war.