Responding to Russian Cyber-Provocations

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Most political leaders understand that governments that fail to respond to public provocations by foreign states do so at their own risk. In recent years, the U.S. and some of its allies (such as Australia, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, and the U.K.) have been subjected to repeated, sophisticated, and costly cyber-attacks, emanating from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. These waves of attacks have become the “new normal.”

It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine reliably the lines separating the actions of a state, its proxies, organized criminal groups, and its business sector. Cyber-attackers can, to some degree, engage in aggressive cyber-behavior while remaining anonymous. For example, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his coterie may engage multiple intermediaries so that the numerous degrees of separation between the Kremlin and the direct attackers cannot be traced.

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