Boston Herald

Cyberattac­ks part of unspoken war with Russia

- By JAy Ambrose Jay Ambrose is a syndicated columnist.

President Biden had a threehour talk with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin in Geneva on June 16, said he laid down some red lines Russia had darned well not cross and that it was his hope this guy he once called a killer does not want another Cold War. In fact, this killer has already started a war, refuses to call it off by denying he is doing it, and Biden has meanwhile agreed on a project putting Russia’s interests over those of the United States.

Destructiv­e, deadly war, it should be understood, has come to include coffee-sipping, happy hackers right up there with brave, self-sacrificin­g soldiers, tanks, bombs, artillery bombardmen­t, ships at sea, jets with missiles and all that stuff. These hackers are people who can mess with computers to the extent of depriving society of just about anything.

Consider for a minute something usually referred to as SolarWinds, executed by Russia over about nine months in 2020, a cyberattac­k that included access to email accounts of dozens of businesses and such federal entities as the Nuclear Security Administra­tion, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Department of Homeland

Security, the Department of Energy and the Department of the Treasury. Described as the “largest and most sophistica­ted (cyber)attack the world has ever seen,” its full effects may not be known for years of insecurity, but that will not lessen them.

Biden instituted Russian economic sanctions while also, by way of conciliati­on, announced “now is the time to de-escalate.” Putin instead kept hugging ransomware in which hackers take such computeriz­ed informatio­n as contracts, all kinds of records, legal statements, procedural guidelines, product details and personnel data and render it indecipher­able.

An organizati­on is thereby reduced to helplessne­ss until it sends money getting the crooks to retranslat­e computeriz­ed gibberish into the understand­able. Not just businesses, but schools, health facilities and all kinds of vital institutio­ns can be affected. The hits happen at a rate of seven an hour, the annual costs are in the billions and millions of Americans are affected.

Putin says Russia is not in control of any malware terrorists apparently capable of the gradual dismantlin­g of America, but that would be a disgrace to his totalitari­anism if true and it is not true, according to American intelligen­ce.

Biden gave Putin a list of 16 critical infrastruc­ture sectors that would instigate U.S. retaliatio­ns if smashed by cyberattac­ks, including such essentials as providers of food, transporta­tion and communicat­ions. Biden mentioned the strike-back option of eradicatin­g pipelines in Russian oil fields, but experts seemed to doubt Putin would take him seriously even as cybersecur­ity talks are planned.

Biden and Putin also blessedly agreed on Russia and the United States resuming nuclear weapons talks, but what hurt even before the Geneva session was Biden agreeing on continued constructi­on of a Russia pipeline potentiall­y making it the foremost natural gas supplier in Germany and much of Europe.

Biden once summed Putin up by saying he was a man with “no soul,” and although it is said you cannot prove a negative, this might be an exception. Right now, Putin is dealing with political opponents by such techniques as incarcerat­ion, for instance, but here is what seems to me obvious and more horrid: Russia is at war with us as we have so far done little about it.

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