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U.S. CyberCom Boss Confirms First U.S. Cyber Operation to Support Ukraine

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U.S. Cyber Command (CyberCom) Director Gen. Paul Nakasone said the U.S. had conducted offensive cyber operations in support of Ukraine as it tries to fend off Russian aggression, The Hill reported.

Nakasone’s remarks were the first official announcement by the U.S. that it is involved in cyber activities in support of Ukraine. (Click here for MSSP Alert’s ongoing coverage of the Ukraine/Russian war. “We’ve conducted a series of operations across the full spectrum: offensive, defensive, information operations,” Nakasone said in an interview with Sky News.

While he didn’t provider any details of the operations, he said they were approved by the Secretary of Defense and President Biden, the Hill reported. “My job is to provide a series of options to the secretary of Defense and the president, and so that’s what I do,” he told Sky News.

In the Sky News interview, Nakasone said the U.S. is conducting operations to dismantle Russian disinformation campaigns that could help swing elections by fomenting the nation’s existing divide and hacking into election machinery where possible.

In September, 2021, Nakasone told attendees at the National Security Summit to expect U.S. intelligence and national security to mount a “surge” against nation-state sponsors of cyber attacks.

Nakasone, who also heads the National Security Agency (NSA), first signaled his intention to adopt a more aggressive cybersecurity stance three years ago but lacked a definitive adversary. Now, prompted by a series of blows landed by ransomware attackers, particularly Russian-backed operatives, cyber hijacking is a clear threat to national security, he said. “Even six months ago," he told attendees at the Summit, "we probably would have said, ‘Ransomware, that’s criminal activity'. But if it has an impact on a nation, like we’ve seen, then it becomes a national security issue. If it’s a national security issue, then certainly we’re going to surge toward it.”

Earlier in 2021, Nakasone told the Senate Armed Services Committee that CyberCom had carried out some two dozen strategic operations to safeguard the 2020 national elections.
Eleven of the operations in nine different countries were “hunt forward,” intended to secure the 2020 election, he said.

“We had an opportunity to start talking about what particularly the Russians were trying to do in our midterm elections. We saw it again in 2020, as we talked about what the Russians and Iranians were going to do, but this was on a smaller scale,” Nakasone told Sky News.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.