Russia has a long history of using hacker groups as a weapon from Intelligence gathering to targeting Artillery positions through a malware that was distributed through a known Ukrainian App made by a Ukrainian Artillery Officer. Things are changing, before it was almost unheard of for any government to publically blame any other country for cyber-attacks but just recently The British Defense Secretary directly and publicly blamed Russia for the NotPetya malware that cost European companies about 1 billion USD. Gavin Williamson was quoted as saying “We have entered a new era of warfare, witnessing a destructive and deadly mix of conventional military might and malicious cyber-attacks,” when he said this he was talking about Russia.
What’s new here is not Russia using cyber-attacks as part of their military, but rather that a government official is willing to publically denounce them. Williamson went as far as saying that former president Obama’s unwillingness to publically denounce Russia has been not only counter-productive but also dangerous. Although this is definitely a step in the right direction. Williamson also admitted that now it is much harder to try to deter Russia from engaging in any type of hostile actions including cyber-attacks because, in this type of war, military power is no longer the determining factor in a conflict. In fact, it is less expensive to hire hackers for a specific task whether it be Intelligence gathering or downright sabotage than it is to send military troops to that country, and is much less likely to produce an international outcry.
In 2014 the Russia/Ukraine conflict began and since then Russia has been targeting Ukraine with ransomware and other types of malware whose objective is to disrupt all services. Russia has also been accused of meddling in the US 2016 presidential elections. It now seems that all eyes are on Russia, whether that deters Russia from using cyber-attacks as part of their foreign policy remains to be seen.