Cyber Security III: Russia's Progress toward Cyber Superiority

Part III in an ongoing series of cyber threats and capabilities emanating from Russia and Eurasia.

Russia is consistently in the upper-tier of cyber warfare capabilities since the past decade and continues to grow as an influx of additional funding supports advancements in the cyber sector. Russia’s complex connection with non-state actors as well as its own state-run agencies makes it difficult to distinguish the origin of attacks.


The 2010 Russian Military Doctrine continues shifting toward military applications of information technology and its advantages over physical forces in conflict. It calls for “prior implementation of measures of informational warfare in order to achieve political objectives without the utilization of military forces.” Two years prior to the new doctrine, the 2008 war in Georgia illustrates changing Russian tactics. Prior to any Russian military action in Georgia, multiple Georgian websites were taken down by Russian originated attacks consisting of DDoS attacks and there was evidence of redirection of Internet traffic through Russian telecommunications firms, providing greater ease of access to users’ information.


Common Practices

Jeffery Carr, cyber security expert and founder and CEO of Taio Global, commented on common practices: “Russian cyber operations are rarely discovered, which is the true measure of a successful op.” The difficulty to link the Russian government to cyber-attacks is almost impossible due to the suspected arrangement government agencies have with Russian cyber-criminal syndicates, who operate for on the behalf of the agencies.


Government’s Increase in Defense Funding

Russian Interior Ministry announced in 2013 that there would be an allocation of USD $1.3 million in spending for security initiatives. These initiatives are designed to enhance network security and synchronize with intrusion-preventative systems employed by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Intrusion-preventative systems are network security appliances that monitor network activity and quickly identify malicious behavior.

 Russia also plans to create cyber-defense units as an additional defense system to combat online attacks against the State. Russian Major-General Yuri Kuznetsov projects completion by 2017. In 2013, Russia created a new R&D agency called the Foundation for Advanced Military Research. The allocated budget for this new department was 2.3 billion rubles or USD $70 million. Its top priority is to find new technologies for cyber defense/warfare capabilities. Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s Defense Minister claims that the army is constantly looking for new programmers to meet the rising need for military software activities.