The Russian government has reportedly warned the US and its allies that they risk a “direct military clash” if cyber-attacks on its infrastructure continue.
The threats follow reports earlier this week that Russia’s Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities website had been hacked and defaced with the message “Glory to Ukraine” posted on its homepage.
A foreign ministry statement seen by Reuters blamed actors in the US and Ukraine for mounting attacks on critical infrastructure and state institutions.
It claimed the US was “deliberately lowering the threshold for the combat use” of IT and threatened potential real-world retaliation.
“The militarization of the information space by the West, and attempts to turn it into an arena of interstate confrontation, have greatly increased the threat of a direct military clash with unpredictable consequences,” it reportedly said.
The websites of countless Russian state-owned companies and government organizations, from airlines to banks and even an alcohol distribution portal, have been regularly disrupted by DDoS attacks since the start of the war.
Other attacks have sought to compromise and leak user data and even wipe customer and corporate records from cloud databases.
President Putin was last month forced to publicly recognize the scale of the impact and called for enhanced cyber-defenses and reduced reliance on foreign-made software and hardware.
However, the reality is that Russia gives as good as it gets in cyberspace. It has been blamed for a large number of DDoS and destructive malware attacks in Ukraine since the start of the invasion.
In April, Microsoft claimed that all of the country’s formidable cyber resources were being turned to target its neighbor to the west, amounting to hundreds of campaigns.
In this context, its latest threats are likely to be little more than saber-rattling.