The Russian Federation carries out hundreds of cyber operations against its enemy daily (EFE/SASCHA STEINBACH/File)

The deepening of the war launched by the president Vladimir Poutine on Ukraine is an indisputable reality that shows Russia’s commitment to its plan to achieve victory at all costs. A few days after the first year of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is the battlefield itself that exhibits the characteristic movements of hybrid warfare with technological combat fronts not used in previous confrontations.

The use of conventional weapon systems today comes with an unusual element in classical warfare of the 20th century. The Russian Federation performs hundreds of cyber operations against its enemy daily Seeking to neutralize and disrupt Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, Moscow’s priority for the past six months has been its electricity supply network and Kyiv’s communications systems, but also the countries’ modern weapons operations centers. Westerners who offer their aid to the government and the armed forces of the President Volodimir Zelensky.

On the Ukrainian side, in response to the Russian cyber-offensive, there is confidence in a strategy whose tactics are openly oriented towards a asymmetric warfare who seeks to equate actions to gain advantages over Russian troops.

As the conflict escalates, members of the United States Congress who support economic and military aid programs for Ukraine have begun to consider the unconventional military capability available to Russiathis capability, other than nuclear, can give Moscow many advantages on the battlefield through the execution of cyberattacks on modern Western weapons systems that Ukraine receives and can receive in the coming months.

The vast majority of modern weapon systems Ukrainians receive are powered by technology that makes them vulnerable to hacking through cyberattacks from the electronic operations department of the Russian Armed Forces. Therefore, the most worrying element for the North Atlantic Organization (NATO, for its acronym in Spanish) is that As Ukraine arms itself with more modern weapon systems, the possibility of cyberattacks from Moscow also increases. forks more risk of miscalculation which increases the risk of penetration into certain numerical weaknesses that could lead to a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia.

Within this framework of concerns, the US Congress is seeking to legislate improvements to the cybersecurity of the US weapons system. However, with each budgetary exercise which begins and which is prepared, those responsible for economic policies in the military field worry about legislating to reduce the tax burden. However, drastically reducing the budget would generate digital vulnerabilities in weapons systems and the risks that technologically advanced adversaries could exploit to their advantage. This is being considered in Washington regarding weapons being brought into Ukraine, so Congress is focused on addressing these concerns through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for this fiscal year 2023, which would be carried out by evaluating the performance of the weapons sent. as well as their ability to function without being neutralized by Russian technology.

The view of a damaged building in Mariupol (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)
The view of a damaged building in Mariupol (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)

In operational weapon systems on the Ukrainian battlefield, a 2022 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report established procedures for constant monitoring of US weapons likely to be violated for cyber operations. In this sense, recent NATO intelligence reports have reassured Washington that Russia does not have a lethal cyber network as believedbut Moscow can launch hundreds of cyberattacks per day and achieve some success through the saturation and quantity of these attacks. Therefore, the North Atlantic Organization recommended to be vigilant against them and their ability to break through vulnerabilities in weapons systems shipped to Ukraine.

The NATO report, like other intelligence reports from Washington’s partner nations, reveals some critical level cyber vulnerabilities in Department of Defense weapon systems and recommends their continued operational battlefield evaluation. Washington’s reported cases regarding the assessment of its weapons systems have not been many, but it was known that in 2022 cybersecurity vulnerabilities had been revealed in a Spirit Bomber B2, a guided missile that has an early warning system for enemy missiles via a tactical radio system. Further investigation and assessment revealed that the B2 Spirit’s failures stemmed from its own electrical components, although there was no mention of a possible crash executed by a cyberattack that would override its normal system activity. operational response.

A few years earlier, in the 2019 Annual Report, GAO’s Director of Operational Evaluation had been able to confirm that infantry transport vehicles were potentially vulnerable to certain Russian cyberattacks, but also Chinese ones. Assessments of personnel carriers continued and a new report from the GAO office in 2021 confirmed the possibility that a technologically advanced enemy could interfere and control vehicle system platforms for several minutes before being detected and neutralized.

Vladimir Putin (Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS)
Vladimir Putin (Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS)

For the United States, advances in technology pose constant new security challenges that make its weapons systems difficult to breach. Upgrading the electronics of these systems for additional information and operational technologies is another area that requires Washington’s attention. Operational technology components control the vital and most sensitive functions of aircraft, combat vehicles and artillery, their current technology protects these American systems from current Russian capabilities and neutralizes a wide range of opportunities for enemies penetrate your critical environments and operating systems to inflict damage and incapacitate your combat operation.

To reaffirm these own forces, in late January, the National Cybersecurity Zone Operations Office sent a document to Congress asking that it be broadly legislated in favor of constant and improved monitoring of critical functions related to national security adjusting the federal government’s fiscal budgets, on demand, it is possible to appreciate the importance of an operational and budgetary expansion.

The United States Congress has always shown itself inclined to positive responses, in fact it has contributed to generating a scenario of support for the fields of weapon systems and national defense against possible cyberattacks by groups or countries hostile to the States -United. The House Armed Services Defense Office provided lawmakers in October 2022 with a report on the level of vulnerability in weapons systems and the risk this poses to national security. The report helped the constant assessments of weapon systems to continue avoiding cyber vulnerabilities in their operating systems. However, the military high command maintains that it will be the Ukrainian battlefield that will demonstrate and ratify the ability to neutralize Russian cyberattacks.

At this moment, the Russian will to expand its military operations in Ukraine is manifesting itself. According to Western intelligence reports on the ground, Moscow’s forces are making expanded movements and deployments of troops and equipment, Russia’s expected spring offensive could be brought forward. Therefore, Washington and its European allies are working to nullify any potential miscalculations emerging from the battlefield that could escalate the conflict. The recent movements of Russian forces create the need – and the urgency – for the United States Congress and the Department of Defense to work to protect their weapons systems against cyberattacks, but also to avoid any mistakes that open the doors to a regional escalation of the crisis. the war that involves more Western European countries, which is not wanted by NATO or Russia.

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