Last Thursday on May 27th, 2021 it was revealed by Microsoft and other agencies that Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (also known as SVR or “Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki”) had attempted a cyberattack on U.S. government entities. SVR has drawn the attention of senior Democrats and others after they gained access to the communication company that sends emails for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Emails were sent out to organizations that protect and uphold human rights that contained malware, which allowed Russian hackers to gain complete access to their electronic devices. Some of these organizations have been openly critical of Russian politics and leaders in the past, which could have garnered them special attention from Russian cybercriminals. In a statement put out by the White House on Friday, the U.S. government alluded that the cyberattack was typical. Microsoft’s speedy response showed that the U.S.’ new defenses against cybercrime are working.
This is not the first that Russian hackers have affected U.S. government agencies and politics. In the presidential election of 2016, it was found that there was Russian cyber activity in all 50 states. Just this month, Colonial Pipeline was forced to pay a hefty ransom of $5 million to cybercriminals from a Russian-based group called “Darkside”. President Biden and other U.S. government officials do not condone paying randoms because it can encourage more cyberattacks with positive outcomes for the perpetrators, and this latest attack shows that cybercriminals are not deterred by cooperation. Last year in December 2020, the SolarWinds cyberattack was revealed as several data breaches involving the Departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Commerce, etc.
Government officials are calling for increased consequences to meddling in U.S. politics in a bid to safeguard the nation, its private information, and the integrity of U.S. elections. The most recent cyberattack also emphasizes the need to close the gaps in U.S. cyber defenses, both for government entities and private companies who have potentially confidential information stored in their databases. On June 16, 2021, President Biden is scheduled to meet with Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, where they will have the chance to discuss cybercrime, human rights, and the development of nuclear weapons.