Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


06:32 PM
Rob Enderle
Rob Enderle

Are We In A Tech 'War' With Russia?

I was reading the withering comments Vladimir Putin made to Michael Dell in response to Dell's offer to help Russia. Though Putin is Russia's prime minister, he clearly is also the guy who is running the country. Reading between the lines, I think it is likely he is driving a technology w

I was reading the withering comments Vladimir Putin made to Michael Dell in response to Dell's offer to help Russia. Though Putin is Russia's prime minister, he clearly is also the guy who is running the country. Reading between the lines, I think it is likely he is driving a technology war with the U.S. -- and that has some rather scary implications.I've already seen what appears to be a massive ramp-up of Eastern European botnets and attacks designed to do massive amounts of identity theft. The running assumption is that these are criminals who are simply too difficult for Russia to catch. But given that Russia treats the tools these folks use as legitimate products that are developed, protected, and carry enforceable warranties, I'm wondering whether the folks doing the attacking aren't also government-backed.

Russian hackers are considered a global menace as it is, and if they are overtly or covertly government-backed, this could be construed as equivalent to a tech war. The FBI has just started warning that Cybergeddon is coming, it is unprepared for the result, and it likely will come out of Eastern Europe.

The Dell Trigger Here's a look at what happened: At the recent World Economic Conference, Putin made a presentation that clearly had an anti-West (actually, more anti-U.S.) tone. Dell, who after praising Russia for its technical and scientific prowess, asked him the first question: "How can we help you?" Putin interpreted Dell's remarks to mean that Dell was calling Russia weak. He went on a rant suggesting that Dell was removing Western technology from Russian infrastructure, and then concluded with what sounded like a personal attack on Dell. This attack consisted of belittling Dell's business, and stating that Russian software was superior and hardware didn't matter. The way Putin said it implied that Dell was running the equivalent of a lemonade stand. Clearly, Dell was being used as a proxy for the West, and specifically the U.S. Russia's rhetoric was short of a declaration of electronic war. What makes this especially odd is it came after a change in the U.S. administration from one that was very critical of Russia and militaristic to one that is much more conciliatory and diplomatic.

Meanwhile, Russian hackers took Kyrgyzstan offline after a 10-day massive cyberassault, effectively eliminating 80 percent of the country's online capacity. This has the feel of a weapons test. And it comes one year after a similar test on another country Russia was upset with -- Georgia. Could the U.S. be next?

I think we need to consider the very real possibility that we may already be engaged in a silent cyberwar and are simply awaiting for the electronic equivalent of Pearl Harbor. If so, this may be a test for the Obama administration.

-- Rob Enderle is president and founder of Enderle Group. Special to Dark Reading.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
Intel Issues Fix for 'Plundervolt' SGX Flaw
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/11/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
There is an improper authentication vulnerability in Huawei smartphones (Y9, Honor 8X, Honor 9 Lite, Honor 9i, Y6 Pro). The applock does not perform a sufficient authentication in a rare condition. Successful exploit could allow the attacker to use the application locked by applock in an instant.
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
Some Huawei smart phones have a null pointer dereference vulnerability. An attacker crafts specific packets and sends to the affected product to exploit this vulnerability. Successful exploitation may cause the affected phone to be abnormal.
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
There is an information disclosure vulnerability in certain Huawei smartphones (Mate 10;Mate 10 Pro;Honor V10;Changxiang 7S;P-smart;Changxiang 8 Plus;Y9 2018;Honor 9 Lite;Honor 9i;Mate 9). The software does not properly handle certain information of applications locked by applock in a rare condition...
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Huawei CloudUSM-EUA V600R006C10;V600R019C00 have an information leak vulnerability. Due to improper configuration, the attacker may cause information leak by successful exploitation.
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Certain Huawei products (AP2000;IPS Module;NGFW Module;NIP6300;NIP6600;NIP6800;S5700;SVN5600;SVN5800;SVN5800-C;SeMG9811;Secospace AntiDDoS8000;Secospace USG6300;Secospace USG6500;Secospace USG6600;USG6000V;eSpace U1981) have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. An attacker who logs in to the board m...