National Security Agency chief forms a special action team to counter Russia cyber threat

U.S. cyber commander and director of the National Security Agency, Paul Nakasone recently confirmed that he has set up a special action team to solve the threat posed by Russia in cyberspace. Nakasone said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Saturday night that Russia has “great capabilities on which we will certainly be called upon. And if called upon, I think, no doubt we will ensure that we act.

The Washington Post reported on July 17 that the NSA will cooperate with the US Cyber Command to counter the cyber threat posed by Russia to the US midterm elections. Nakasone said: “I stood up a Russia group, a Russia Small Group. It’s in line with what the intelligence community has really been doing since post 2016, 2017.”

Nakasone said: “the adversaries that we must focus on early on and into the future.”

“We have to have some manner upon which we’re going to look at being able to contest them in places like cyber space. If we decide that we’re going to stand on the sidelines, that we’re not going to bring the power of our nation against our adversaries in cyberspace — and that’s more than just cyber, it’s the whole capabilities that our nation has — I think again that we run the risk of our adversaries defining what they are going to do within this domain.”

Nakasone pointed out: “They steal intellectual property, they steal P.I.I. or information on personnel, they cause discord within our social ranks or attempt to undermine our elections, all below the level of war. And so this idea of how do you engage that force is something that I believe needs to be on a continual basis.”

Nakasone said that targeting the US’s critical infrastructure will constitute an attack above that level. In January 2017, Jeh Johnson added electoral infrastructure to a list of key government facilities, including voting systems, voter registration and polling stations.

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