A new global conflict is already breaking out in cyberspace, a top Russian defense official has claimed, adding that Moscow hopes to work with the US to reduce the risks stemming from back-and-forth digital skirmishing.
Andrey Krutskikh, a Foreign Ministry official charged with overseeing the country’s international cooperation on information security, spoke on Thursday at an academic conference on the subject of Russia’s place in today’s political world. He claimed that cyberattacks have become so frequent and severe as to constitute a new world conflict, hidden from the public eye.
A war is taking place, and taking place very intensely,” he warned in his address at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. “As much as we act like this is all hidden, in fact, full-scale hostilities are happening in cyberspace. And in general, the media are correct to say this is already a Third World War. We just don’t know the extent of the damage, or who will lose in the end, or what the world’s configuration will be as a result of the war.”
Krutskikh emphasized that the Kremlin was eager to use the structure of the UN to come to international agreements regarding digital warfare. He complained, however, that the US and other nations had interfered with Moscow’s attempts to make the matter a priority.
In January, he reported, there will be “a substantive session of a special UN commission for the development of conventions for cyber warfare.”
The session was a Moscow-backed initiative, Krutskikh claimed, adding that “even here they’ve tried to use different excuses to reduce Russia’s role, and are introducing conditions to frustrate the negotiating process.”
Earlier this year, US President Joe Biden leveled sanctions against Russia, claiming that the Kremlin had been behind the massive hack of the Texas-based SolarWinds company, which compromised the systems of more than 100 commercial firms around the world, as well as nine US government agencies. Moscow denied the allegation, saying, “It’s high time to put things in order on American soil, from where constant attacks on critical infrastructure in Russia emerge.”
In March, US cybersecurity firm FireEye warned that Americans would be facing worse and worse cyberattacks in the future. “People don’t even know all the things they depend on. All of a sudden the supply chain starts getting disrupted because computers don’t work,” Kevin Mandia, the firm’s CEO, told Axios.