Russian Cyberwar Force Intensifies ‘net Arms Race

Russian Cyberwar Force Intensifies ‘net Arms Race: On the same day the Obama Administration revealed its pick for the new head of the National Security Agency (NSA), Russian officials announced they will launch a new military unit devoted to keeping digital attacks from crippling the Russian military.

The new cyberdefense unit, which is due to go into operation by 2017, will be created “to defend Russian armed forces’ critical infrastructure from computer attacks,” according to Maj. Gen. Yuri Kuznetsov, who was quoted in the state-backed RIA Novosti news agency.

It may or may not be coincidence that Kuznetsov’s announcement came on the same day the White House leaked its plan to appoint U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Michael S. Rogers to take over as head of the NSA and Pentagon’s Cyber Command, following the retirement of embattled current NSA director Gen. Keith. B. Alexander.

Though Pentagon and White House officials emphasized Rogers’ technical and administrative qualifications for the job, Rogers is on record as advocating a “warrior ethos” among military cyber-security crews that would encourage use of military networks and other digital resources as weapons rather than just infrastructure to be maintained.

Moscow’s Jan. 30 announcement that it would create a defensive cyber-force was not the first time Russian officials have complained about online attacks, or announced plans to beef up defense against them using both the secret police and the military.

RIA Novosti reported in April that the Russian Interior Ministry would spend the equivalent of $1.3 million on security to prevent attacks on its computer networks and to link with similar intrusion-prevention systems used by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) – the post-Soviet ancestor of the KGB.

Russian officials complained at the time that Websites belonging to the office of the President and two houses of the Russian parliament sustained up to 10,000 attacks every day.