(FiveNation.com)- Hackers who were working on behalf of the U.S. military have been able to run successful offensive cyberattacks in an effort to support Ukraine in its war with neighboring Russia.
The head of the U.S. Cyber Command, General Paul Nakasone, told Sky News recently that separate “hunt-forward” cyber operations were utilized to identify hackers overseas and the weapons they were using before that could all be used against the U.S.
These “hunt-forward” cyber operations, according to FedScoop, involve deploying teams of defensive cyber protection people to nations overseas. While there, the agents from the Cyber National Mission Force will hunt for various threats on networks per the organizations’ invitations.
Nakasone then said the group shares the intelligence they are able to gather with the host nation. As he explained to Sky News:
“If you’re an adversary, and you’ve just spent a lot of money on a tool, and you’re hoping to utilize it readily in a number of different intrusions, suddenly it’s outed and it’s now been signature across a broad range of networks, and suddenly you’ve lost your ability to do that.”
Nakasone also confirmed that cyber specialists from the U.S. military have been located in Ukraine since close to the origination of Russia’s invasion of its neighbor. As he explained:
“We went in December 2021 at the invitation of the Kyiv government to come and hunt with them. We stayed there for a period of almost 90 days.”
He further explained that he’s concerned “every single day” about Russia possibly using cyberattacks that would target America. One of the biggest tools the U.S. can use to fight against this are the hunt-forward operations.
“We’ve conducted a series of operations across the full spectrum; offensive, defensive [and] information operations … My job is to provide a series of options to the secretary of defense and the president, and so that’s what I do.”
The general wouldn’t provide specific details about what the operations entailed. However, he did say everything the team did was lawful and conducted according to policies that were created by the Department of Defense. There was also civilian oversight of all the missions.
One of the main differences between what Russia does with cyberattacks and how the United States approaches is, Nakasone said, is that the U.S. will tell the truth strategically when they conduct an operation to look and exploit information.
Russia, on the contrary, starts all their operations based on a lie. He further explained:
“A classic example is in 2020, when we saw a series of different proxies, in this case troll farms, that were starting to develop in Africa.”
The U.S. shared that information with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and as a result, the Cyber Command and National Security Agency worked to provide “a flashlight that suddenly exposes this type of malicious behavior,” he explained.
This type of strategy of disclosing information has evolved since it was first used back in 2018. It’s helped to shape how the U.S. has responded to the war in Ukraine.