According to numerous media testimonies, the United States in the field of online struggle is a force that is virtually unparalleled throughout the world. It is clear that Russia, as one of America’s main rivals, cannot be idle when it comes to such a strategically important area. In the near future, the government and military forces of the Russian Federation will take a series of measures aimed at comprehensively reflecting American cyber threats through the accelerated build-up of military cyber help under the direct guidance of the army. Your attention is invited to a special report "Keji zhibao."
At a recent meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, President Putin said that it was necessary to increase the degree of readiness for effectively countering threats in cyberspace, as well as the level of protection of information systems of strategic objects. He also noted that information attacks are already used to solve military and political tasks, and their striking power may be higher than that of ordinary types weapons. Putin’s speech of this kind coincided with a scandal involving the American program PRISM that thundered all over the world. The bold revelation made by former CIA officer Edward Snowden not only revealed to the world the ugly truth about the US position on the theft of secret information, but also made all countries take a sober look at the real power of the United States in the field of network struggle.
In the near future, the government and military forces of the Russian Federation will take a series of measures aimed at comprehensively reflecting American cyber threats through the accelerated build-up of military cyber help under the direct guidance of the army. According to the representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the Russian army this year will create a new type of troops, who will be responsible for the information security of the country. Their main responsibilities will be control and processing of information from external sources, as well as the fight against cyber threats. “In other words, it’s something like American cyber warfare,” he said.
The concept of creating cyber command was fundamentally approved at one of the meetings of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation last summer. Against the backdrop of an aggressive US offensive on the network space, this concept quickly became a reality. Director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, a member of the Academy of Military Sciences, Alexander Sharavin made a sensational statement that the Ministry of Defense received a proposal to establish such a command already 10 years ago. He also noted that in the near future such a command would still appear in Russia. “Protecting our cyber networks is not only the task of our armed forces, it is the task of the entire state, of all our law enforcement agencies. Cyberwar is already under way, therefore such commands are charged with the task not only of defense, but also, if necessary, of delivering some kind of retaliatory strikes, ”the expert noted.
According to the Russian newspaper Izvestia, Defense Minister Shoigu has already instructed the main operational management, organizational-mobilization management and a number of other associated structures to complete the creation of a cyber command as quickly as possible. Izvestia also reports that if the plan presented by the main operational department is approved by the country's political leadership, the “draft” version of cyber command will appear before the start of 2014.
As for the authority of this structure, the vice-premier and the chairman of the military-industrial complex, Dmitry Rogozin, in an interview with a military analyst stressed that the office powers of cyber command would cover not only military objectives, but also the protection of the country's civil infrastructure. At the moment, some law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation have already created their own mechanisms for countering cyber threats. For example, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has an “K” office, while the FSB has an Information Security Center. Information security specialist Ilya Skachkov is convinced that although security agencies will continue to pay more and more attention to the network space, their activities will not overlap. The K department investigates computer crimes on the territory of our country and makes criminals accountable. The Information Security Center counteracts in the virtual space to foreign special services, extremist and criminal organizations that threaten the national and economic security of Russia. The cyber command of the Ministry of Defense will deter cyber threats while attempting to openly encroach on the interests of Russia from other states.
After creating a cyber command at the Ministry of Defense in its basic form, an organizational chart of the distribution of Russian forces of influence on the network space will be formed: a “big three” of organizations tied to different security agencies will appear. Each of these three structures in the network has its own, clearly defined sphere of authority and interests, each of which will be engaged in its own business. All this will effectively minimize the costs and internal depreciation arising from the unclear positioning and fuzzy separation of responsibilities, will significantly increase the efficiency of the use of network struggle. At the same time, the army assumes the task that is closest to the practice of war — the fight against cyber-pressure from other states. Therefore, we can confidently assert that the appearance of a cyber war in the full sense of the word in the ranks of the Russian army is a matter of the near future.
“The concept of using cyber weapons was developed six to seven years ago. Now this weapon is second in importance after nuclear, ”said Anatoly Tsyganok, head of the Center for Military Forecasting and Assistant Professor at the Department of World Politics at Moscow State University, to the Russian newspaper Vzglyad.
“Cyber weapons are actively used in military conflicts,” the expert continued, “the last example is during the US intervention in Libya, where they controlled not only airspace (they violated the entire air defense system), but also telecommunications networks. They were members of the Libyan television networks and broadcast to the local population. ”
Creating a "scientific mouth" - strengthening the army with talented personnel
A cyber war is a knowledge-based branch of the military, so it can only be created if there are a large number of talented personnel. In order to establish cyber command and create a “cyber army”, the military forces of Russia took a number of steps towards strengthening the army with capable specialists, and the creation of a “scientific company” is the most recent of them. The Ministry of Defense began to recruit people to create these operational troops of the new type on the same day when President Putin read his speech at a meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation. The first company of this kind will officially begin work this fall, initially 35 graduates from local universities will enter it.
It is reported that the idea of creating a "scientific company" was expressed at a meeting of Defense Minister Shoigu with the rectors of universities. Its essence is to attract students of regional universities to serve in the army, where at the same time they will conduct research work commissioned by the Ministry of Defense. After the Defense Ministry received a similar proposal, Shoigu announced a “big hunt” for programmers. According to Shoigu, this is due to the fact that in the next five years, the army will need a large amount of new software products. “I would like that with the advent of scientific companies a new generation of people will be formed who will move military science,” the minister noted.
Despite the fact that, within the framework of the initial idea of creating “scientific companies”, their scope of application is not limited to programming, Shoigu’s position clearly makes us understand that at this stage the most important goal of establishing these companies is to attract high-class civilian IT specialists. And if you look back at the words said by President Putin on the same day, it becomes obvious that the essence of the “scientific mouth” is precisely in the training of personnel of the future “cyber army”.
If to compare with other countries of the world, in Russia the training of IT specialists is conducted at a sufficiently high level, and every year the universities of the country produce a large number of capable specialists who are ready to work in the areas of software or network technologies. Creating a "scientific company" rests on this: using the educational potential of universities in the country, in various ways to find personnel for the needs of the army in the hope that it will be possible to recruit the people needed to create a "cyber army" in the shortest time possible, and thus circumvent the problem shortages of specialists due to insufficient educational potential of the army itself.
Russia saved up experience of network war during real conflicts
Despite the fact that Russia has never had an official “cyber army”, in recent years the means of network struggle have always been in this country at the forefront of foreign policy confrontation, and Russia has achieved significant success in this direction. Examples include network wars that Russia waged with Estonia and Georgia. In April 2007, Estonia decided to move the monument to the Soviet Soldier-Liberator, previously located in the center of Tallinn, to a military cemetery.
A similar move on the part of the Estonian authorities pushed Russian citizens of Estonia to large-scale riots, at the same time causing a flurry of fierce criticism from the Russian government. April 26 around 10 hours of the evening, when nothing foreshadowed trouble, the websites of Estonian government agencies suddenly began to "drown" under an avalanche of requests coming from all over the world. One by one, government sites, banks and media sites were attacked - not one of the websites of state institutions escaped this fate. Chaos reigned in the country. Already after the incident, the Minister of Defense of Estonia at one international conference declared that this series of cyber attacks on government sites was “no one noticed by the Third World War”.
8 August 2008, when the problem of South Ossetia led to a shootout between Russian and Georgian troops, Georgian sites were already attacked. The goals of cyber attacks were the websites of banks, media, telecommunications and transport companies, the system of government resources was completely paralyzed. Even President Saakashvili’s personal page was hacked: hackers placed a collage of carefully selected photographs on it indicating the similarities between Saakashvili and Hitler. Since government resources and information resources practically did not work, Georgia did not have the opportunity to use the Internet to disseminate accurate information about the conflict, and the political campaign failed. Thus, Russia not only won in an armed conflict, but also won the struggle for public opinion, won a victory in a psychological war.
Despite the fact that there is no direct evidence that the attacks were carried out with the knowledge of the Russian government, the goals, scale and strength of the attacks tell us that all this could not be just the tricks of some individual hackers. Now there is reason to believe that a certain part of the network warfare tools that were actively used in past network wars will be put into service in the official "cyber army", and the experience gained in previous conflicts will play an important role in the development of this new kind of troops.
Huge reserves of development
“Everyone knows that Russians are strong in mathematics,” said the former head of the K Office, Boris Miroshnikov. “Our programmers are the best in the world, so our hackers are the best in the world.” This is not an empty boast, Russian hackers have achieved tremendous "recognition" in the international arena, their exceptional skill is recognized by many network technology experts.
Ken Dugem, an experienced analyst at an international company working in the field of network security, noted that the skill of Russian hackers is reaching an incredible height. Russian cybercriminals are quite strong programmers, these are people who really understand the network. They know all the moves and exits in it and at the same time do not leave, as they say, “neither a spider's thread, nor a hoof mark”. Therefore, the intelligence of many countries are very willing to invite these hackers into the service. Even the US government, which recruits hackers from all over the world, is trying to attract hackers from Russia to its side. But because of a sense of national pride, Russian hackers are often staunch patriots. When America recruited a well-known Russian hacker, who spoke under the nickname Zeus, for a huge amount, he said: “I agree to work for the US government. But the important thing is that my work should not be directed against Russia, because I do not want to become a traitor. ”
Most Russian cybercriminals will work with much greater pleasure for the Russian government or army. Such high-level hackers are potential leaders of the future Russian “cyber army”, and their capabilities should not be underestimated.
In addition, now at the disposal of Russia there are a myriad of Russian citizens working in computer companies in America and European countries. Russians to one degree or another put their hands on almost all computer equipment or network products produced by large American or European companies. Even if only a small part of these specialists want to help the Russian “cyber army” in the future, it is immediately clear how much damage they can inflict.
However, despite the fact that there are all these favorable moments that contribute to the creation of the Russian “cyber army”, it is necessary to understand that there are also factors that hinder the development of this idea. The first is a technological lag from potential adversaries. Despite the fact that the IT sphere is developing in Russia at a very fast pace, the dominance in the world of information technologies still largely belongs to the United States and European countries. Such a technological gap gives the "cyberarms" of the potential adversary a certain head start, and Russia will have to put even more effort to equal themselves with them.
The second factor is the question of remuneration. The highly skilled computer and networking technology specialists needed to create a “cyber army” are snapping up all over the world. A large-scale search and employment of such people will require huge financial investments that the Russian government and the army can hardly afford.
The third problem is the problem of governance. Speaking about this, Vladimir Parfenov, dean of the ITMO faculty of information technology and programming, did not hit the eyebrow, but into the eye: “Programmers are specific people ... (...) ... they are unlikely to work in army companies, and who there they will be commanded, not the officers. " However, even if there are a lot of problems, we can be sure that Russia under any circumstances will remain steadfast in its determination to create a strong “cyberarmy” and will keep faith in its own forces. The key to this is national pride and a foreign policy situation in which the presence of one’s “cyber army” is a severe necessity.
The authors are representatives of the Center for the Study of International Problems at the PLA Defense University of Science and Technology.