WASHINGTON, DC – With the ongoing war in Ukraine, many here in the United States are in fear that Russia will unleash a cyber-attack on the country following the U.S.’s sanctions against their government.
Now, the U.S. government is warning that a cyberattack is likely, and experts are warning it could be crippling when it happens.
NOW – Biden on Russian cyberattack: "It's coming."pic.twitter.com/oBAsobUSog
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) March 21, 2022
CBS17 spoke to Craig Petronella, a security expert, who claims that the realistic threat of cyber-attacks from Russia is an 11 out of a one to ten scale. Petronella also believes that the likely cyberattacks could not only be detrimental to the government, but to those who live in the U.S. as well.
Petronella points to the 2021 cyberattack from Russia on the Colonial Pipeline which was shut down by Russian hackers.
That attack caused a complete shutdown of the pipeline, which caused the gas supply to be adversely affected for several days in the state. Petronella believes that the next attack that Russia will launch is likely to be worse. He said:
“I think they’ll do blanket attacks where they scan for low-hanging fruit.”
I feel like we are in a constant state of shock and awe from the Biden admin. It is one crisis after another. Now we are dealing with several: at the brink of WWIII, a major cyber attack and upcoming food shortage.
— Gretchen Smith (@cov_Gretchen) March 26, 2022
What he means by this are cell phones and other electronic items that people have come to depend on both professionally and personally. He said that Russian hackers could use robocalls that would infect thousands of cell phones. He said:
“These are effective methods of mass distribution of malware, bad files, and data destruction.”
Petronella points out that cell phones are not only attached to most of what everyday Americans do, like banking, purchasing, and social media but most are also tied into business computers and systems.
This means that any malware that Russian hackers could implant may lead them to the insides of big corporation computer systems by creating a denial-of-service attack that would crash their systems. He said:
“They have all these slave computers ready to go at the push of a button and attack all at one time.”
On top of simply crashing the computer systems and grinding everyday business to a halt, hackers could also keep the computer data hostage and demand money to release the data they have stolen.
The hackers would then hold onto the data until the ransom is paid or hold onto it forever.
“Russia” is about to initiate a cyber attack…. pic.twitter.com/wFaHnSTvo3
— Wittgenstein (@backtolife_2022) March 22, 2022
While all of this information may seem troubling, there are also different ways of avoiding being held hostage by any hacker.
Petronella noted that people can take easy steps by backing up the data on their computers and their phones on systems that are not connected to the internet.
Additionally, he noted steps that will make it harder for hackers to get into your electronics.
Some of the steps he highlighted are:
“Use automatic fraud call blocking on all cellphones…Use pin codes on accounts…Don’t click on links in text messages…Use complex, hard-to-guess passwords…Don’t reuse passwords.”
Other steps which can be taken to safeguard your information is not to fall prey to sextortion or other scams that the hackers use to get your information. Sextortion occurs when a hacker can acquire private and sensitive information off of a cell phone or computer and holds those images hostage.
Another form of sextortion occurs when you get a random text or email from someone claiming they have captured you in a compromising position on your cell phone or computer without your knowledge.
Hackers will send a link that is supposed to have evidence of their claim, but the link is a script that gives the hackers full control over your cell phone or computer which they will use to steal everything off of your computer.
Another way that hackers get your personal information is by calling you and threatening to arrest you if you do not pay some type of fine, threatening to suspend your social security number, a loved one is being held hostage, or that your Amazon account has been hacked. While any of these may get your attention, they are always false and never are generated by who they claim to be.
If you receive these phone calls or texts, the best way to avoid being a victim is to not reply or even engage with the person or robocaller. If you think that your accounts have been compromised, log into them yourself and/or call the companies yourself and ensure that you have not been victimized.
UN General Assembly censures Russia over Ukraine invasion – but a shocking number of countries refused to
The UN General Assembly, which held a rare emergency session to address Russia’s attack of Ukraine, drafted the resolution, “Aggression against Ukraine,” and then voted on it March 2.
The vote came as Russia attacked Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, which contains about 1.5 million people.
According to Oleksiy Arestovich, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, several Russian planes were shot down over the city.
The five countries that voted “no” included Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea, Russia and Syria.
Several supposed allies of Russia that abstained from voting included China, Cuba, India, Iran and Iraq.
Eleven countries were not recorded as voting or abstaining, including Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.
AP News reported:
“The abstentions included China and India, as expected, but also some surprises from usual Russian allies Cuba and Nicaragua. And the United Arab Emirates, which abstained on Friday’s similar Security Council resolution, voted ‘yes.’
“Cuba had spoken in Russia’s defense on Tuesday, with Ambassador Pedro Luis Cuesta blaming the crisis on what he said is the U.S. determination to keep expanding NATO toward Russia’s borders and on the delivery of modern weapons to Ukraine, ignoring Russia’s concerns for its own security.
“He told the assembly the resolution ‘suffers from lack of balance’ and doesn’t begin to address the concerns of both parties, or ‘the responsibility of those who took aggressive actions which precipitated the escalation of this conflict.’”
China’s Ambassador Zhang Jun explained its abstention from voting, citing “dramatic changes of the situation in Ukraine” and calling what is unfolding “heart wrenching,” according to a report by AP News.
Jun reiterated Beijing’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and for the peaceful settlements of all disputes in line with the U.N. Charter and said:
“The top priority right now is to ease the situation on the ground as much as possible, and prevent the situation from escalating or even getting out of control.”
After the vote, there was a standing ovation.
The resolution holds no legal authority, but serves as a symbol of global unity against Russian President Vladimir Putin as only five of the 181 nations present voted against the measure.
AP News reported that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters immediately after the vote:
“The message of the General Assembly is loud and clear: End hostilities in Ukraine — now. Silence the guns — now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy — now.
“We don’t have a moment to lose. The brutal effects of the conflict are plain to see … It threatens to get much, much worse.”
British Ambassador Barbara Woodward said the vote sent a clear message that the General Assembly condemns Putin and supports Ukraine, according to AP News’ report.
“We have stood up against those who seek to redraw the world’s borders by threat or use of force.
“For if president Putin’s aggression against Ukraine goes unchecked, which country could be next?”
President Zelenskyy praised the vote via a tweet:
“I praise the approval by the #UN GA with an unprecedented majority of votes of the resolution with a strong demand to Russia to immediately stop the treacherous attack on 🇺🇦. I’m grateful to everyone & every state that voted in favor. You have chosen the right side of history.
“Destructive results of the vote in 🇺🇳 for the aggressor convincingly show that a global anti-Putin coalition has been formed and is functioning. The world is with us. The truth is on our side. Victory will be ours 🇺🇦!”
President Joe Biden commented on the UN’s vote that condemned Russia, saying in part:
“The United Nations condemned Putin. 141 countries voted to do that. In the UN, here in the Assembly. Several abstained. China abstained….India abstained. Seven countries abstained — I think that was the number.
“We’re going to demonstrate to the whole world, no one can split this country.”
Reuters reported that while Brazil had voted for the UN resolution against Russia, it later criticized “indiscriminate sanctions” against the country:
“Brazil’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ronaldo Costa Filho, reaffirmed on Wednesday the country’s position in favor of an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, but said the indiscriminate application of sanctions on Russia does not lead to the reconstruction of dialogue.
“He made his statement minutes after the UN General Assembly voted to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine and demanded that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces.”
Brazil’s ambassador warned:
“The resolution cannot be seen as something that allows the indiscriminate application of sanctions.
“These initiatives do not lead to the reconstruction of a diplomatic dialogue and it brings consequences that go beyond the current situation.”
Reuters further reported that Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who previously visited Putin before the invasion of Ukraine, said Brazil would remain neutral in the conflict.
Bolsonaro mentioned Brazil’s reliance on Russian fertilizers that are crucial for the country’s giant agribusiness sector.
A death toll of at least 2,000 Ukrainians was reported by the Ukraine State Emergency Service.
In addition, the foreign ministry claimed that over 5,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since fighting began one week ago, according to a FOX News report.
According to a separate FOX News report, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Liz Throssell explained that many of the deaths are caused by wide-impact explosives:
“Most of these casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area.
“This includes shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems and airstrikes.”
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