Us sanctions did not help to stop or slow down Russian cyber attacks

Ten days after American intelligence agencies have blamed committed in October last year, the hacking of the servers of the National Committee of the Democratic party in the Russian government, Vice President Joe Biden (Joe Biden) promised that the U.S. government “give a signal” to Kremlin. Two months later, the White house announced new sanctions against Russian officials and companies, and expelled from the country for 35 Russian diplomats. Six months later, and, apparently, the signal is completely ignored.

The Russian hackers who gleefully gave the contents of correspondence of the National Committee of the Democratic party, Colin Powell (Colin Powell) and the staff of Hillary Clinton, continue working, this time the elections in France and Germany. And this inability to stop the adventurism of Russia in cyberspace, according to analysts in the field of cyber security, indicates an unusual failure of digital diplomacy: even after a clear identification of the hackers behind one of the most brazen in the modern history of state attacks on American targets, America still has not figured out how to stop them.

Teased the bear

In his recent report, which tracks the activities associated with the Kremlin, a hacker group known as Pawn Storm or APT 28, or Fancy Bear, firm Trend Micro, working in the field of cyber security have identified phishing sites. These sites, according to experts of the company are used for the elevation data and fraud in relation to electoral campaigns of politicians leftist Emmanuel Macron (Emmanuel Macron) and Angela Merkel (Angela Merkel) before the upcoming elections in France and Germany. Analysts also found that phishing domains were registered in March and April of 2017, which leaves little doubt that the attacks began much later, as last year the American authorities have attempted to curb hacking Russian.

“It seems that we are witnessing the opposite effect. By far, their attacks hacker group Pawn Storm even keep up the pace, says analyst firm Trend Micro ed Cabrera (Ed Cabrera). — They became only bolder”.

Speaking yesterday at the Senate hearing, FBI Director James Komi (James Comey) did not doubt that the response of the Obama administration would stop the Russian hackers, and they were careful to intervene in future American elections. “I think one of the lessons that Russians could learn from this, is that the tactic response is working, said Komi Republic, speaking before members of the Senate Committee on intelligence. — I believe that they will return in 2018 and especially in 2020,” when the United States will host the next presidential election.

This failure to effectively contain Russia in its attempts to carry out so-called “operation impact” with the theft and diversion of documents does not mean that deterrence, as a way of thwarting the activities of state-supported hackers is inefficient, says strategist at the New America Foundation in Peter singer (Peter Singer). This means that the United States is simply not brought the case to the end. “Neither of which contain crimes in cyberspace may not be out of the question, so if it answer the most serious cyber attacks in history — singer. — We sent a signal not only to the group APT28 or Russia, but all state and non-state attackers, giving them to understand that our response will not be very costly, but it will be effective.”

The decision of the Obama administration to impose sanctions against Russian companies and hackers, the expulsion of diplomats and the arrest of two Russian diplomats-owned country residences in the U.S. was “too little, too late”, wrote the singer in his report submitted to the house Committee on armed services last month. To implement these response measures, he said, took more than six months, and by that time even the experts on cybersecurity, working in the private sector, came to a consensus that for cyber attacks is Russia. But even these sanctions were painful enough for the Russian top leadership, says singer.

Tender points

Instead, says singer, the United States should take such response measures that Putin felt them myself personally — to tell us about his hidden personal wealth. “Look for painful points that could affect Russian oligarchs,” says the singer. It indicates how angry Putin-leak “Panamanian documents” from offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca, with the result that it became known about the secret part of the wealth of the Russian President. “Show me where everything is hidden — says the singer. — Make sure to complicate their lives.”

In a broader sense, Russian officials are afraid of the facts exposing their abuses and corruption, says analyst on cybersecurity and foreign policy at the Center for strategic and international studies, Jim Lewis (Jim Lewis). This kind of response, leaks, he says, can be a valuable map, which the United States could play. “We need to think about whether we want to act in response more aggressive, says says Lewis. — We should consider how to make further steps in this direction more painful for them.”

In December last year following the introduction of sanctions Lewis in an interview with Wired said that, as it seems, they are really quite hard and cause irritation of the Kremlin — he called them “the toughest action in response to the Russian espionage since the cold war.” However, to what extent would these actions we helped, says Lewis, their chilling effect on our allies like France and Germany, it seems, does not apply. For this reason, hackers from the group Pawn Storm is targeting the electoral headquarters of Macron (in the words of employees of the headquarters of Macron, the hacking attempt was unsuccessful) and political structures of Germany, including the analytic center associated with the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “Christian democratic Union” and the German Parliament. As a result of recent hacking attacks were actually stolen documents ahead of the September elections in Germany can still leak to the press — in the framework of the regular Russia’s attempts to destabilize the European Union.

“The Russians, apparently, perceive sanctions as measures applicable to actions against the United States, says Lewis. — On a collective level, we have to think about where NATO and the EU can take action”.


Which raises the third issue of the US strategy in respect of digital diplomacy: lack of willingness of the administration of the President of trump to fulfill its obligations to European allies and that it softens the position of Obama, is not conducive to combat action Russian and only Russian gives more courage and motivates them. Trump even continued to publicly doubt that a hacker attack on the servers of the Democrats in the election campaign of 2016 was initiated, primarily in Russia, despite the fact that his own intelligence agencies have repeatedly pointed to the involvement of the Kremlin. Three months after the tramp for some time acknowledged the involvement of Russia, this week he again expressed than not supported by the idea that it “could be China”.

This lack of desire to even mention Russia (not to mention deterring the next attack) puts the United States in a very difficult position, says Peter singer. He notes that even Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell (Mitch McConnell) and Paul Ryan (Paul Ryan) who criticized the sanctions imposed by Obama, calling them too soft or belated, is now strongly advocate that just to keep sanctions in force, but not to cancel them. “Is a mild response to something means to do more than doing nothing, says singer. — This is what we have since and are engaged.”

All this means that the concept of deterrence hacker attacks Russia on the election process and civil society at the moment does not exist. Tune into what a habit the Kremlin to intervene in elections will only grow, and the situation will worsen — until someone will give him a reason not to.