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Intel community chief warns of 'serious cyber threat' from Russia beyond Ukraine invasion

"Moscow presents a serious cyber threat, a key space competitor and one of the most serious foreign influence threats to the United States," said Avril Haines.

Published: March 8, 2022 2:21pm

Updated: March 8, 2022 10:27pm

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines is warning that Russia poses a "serious cyber threat" to the U.S. as it launches cyber attacks inside Ukraine during its invasion. 

"Beyond its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow presents a serious cyber threat, a key space competitor and one of the most serious foreign influence threats to the United States," she said during an annual worldwide threats hearing in the House on Tuesday.

The intelligence community released the latest annual threat assessment on Tuesday, which concluded that Russia is "particularly focused on improving its ability to target critical infrastructure, including underwater cables and industrial control systems, in the United States as well as in allied and partner countries, because compromising such infrastructure improves and demonstrates its ability to damage infrastructure during a crisis."

National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone said that Russia has carried out several cyberattacks inside of Ukraine recently. However, the level of cyber attacks on Ukraine hasn't been what U.S. officials "had anticipated" before the Russian invasion.

Still, U.S. intelligence officials have warned about potential retaliatory cyber attacks against Western nations over economic sanctions against Russia.

"We have, obviously, a high degree of vigilance right now, just for a number of different threat streams that are out there, but they're not necessarily only predicated on what we're seeing with the Ukraine," said Nakasone.

New York City government officials have said the city is at "increased risk" of a cyber attack from Russia. 

"We see threats pop up periodically, those specifically associated to this heightened sense we've seen an uptick, but we're not aware of any campaign that's explicitly targeting the city itself," New York City Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser said. "We deter a significant number of threats per day … But as it stands right now, there's no compromise, or there haven't been any compromises worth noting."

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