Updated with Kremlin's statement.
The US is increasingly wary Russia is preparing a large cyberattack against critical infrastructure.
Speaking at the Business Roundtable Quarterly Meeting, President Joe Biden urged American businesses to invest in cyber security as much as possible.
Biden said that based on 'evolving intelligence,' Russia may be planning a cyberattack against the US, and critical infrastructure companies may be the primary targets.
"And as I've said, the magnitude of Russia's cyber capacity is fairly consequential, and it's coming," President Biden said.
Business leaders were warned that one of the tools Russia is most likely to use against the US is cyberattacks since Moscow operates capable tools that it did not yet deploy on a large scale.
"And I've warned about the potential for Russian conduct to maliciously — malicious cyber activity in response to the cost we'd impose, with our Allies and partners, on the world," the US president said.
After Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Moscow was largely cut off from the global economy with sanctions on many of the country's key sectors and several individuals.
Senior White House cybersecurity official Anne Neuberger later added that while there is no evidence of any specific cyberattack the US is anticipating, intelligence points to emerging threats in the cyber realm.
"There is some preparatory activity that we're seeing, and that is what we shared in a classified context with companies who we thought might be affected," Neuberger said.
Kremlin rejects US warnings
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov rejected US warnings that Russia may be preparing to conduct cyber attacks against the West.
"The Russian Federation, unlike many Western countries, including the United States, does not engage in state-level banditry," Reuters reported Peskov telling reporters.
Two days before Russia invaded Ukraine, on February 22, Peskov said that Russia has never attacked anyone throughout its history, nor it intends to.
A statement deemed false by historians and Kremlin itself after it launched an invasion of Ukraine two days later.
Disrupt and finance
There are multiple ways a significant cyberattack could impact the US, the EU, and other western allies. For one, Russia can turn to ransomware to obtain hard currency to supplement its sanctioned economy.
As experts told Cybernews, Russian cybercriminals have targeted Western companies with impunity in the past. Given the country is isolated from the world and likely to default, Russia might seek revenue by attacking Western companies.
Last year's ransomware attacks against the Colonial Pipeline and meatpacker JBS showed that digital extortion attempts could severely impact civilian life by halting companies that provide critical services.
"And as I've said, the magnitude of Russia's cyber capacity is fairly consequential, and it's coming."-President Joe Biden
Moscow might also try to disrupt critical western infrastructure. Earlier this year, the FBI, the NSA, and CISA warned that Russian state-sponsored cyber operations against critical infrastructure specifically targets operational technology and industrial control systems with destructive malware.
US intelligence thinks that Moscow might have disrupted broadband satellite internet access in Ukraine on the eve of Russia's invasion. Specifically, services provided by Viasat's KA-SAT were targeted.
Last week, CISA and the FBI issued an advisory, claiming both agencies are aware of possible threats to local and international satellite communication (SATCOM) providers.
"Given the current geopolitical situation, CISA's Shields Up initiative requests that all organizations significantly lower their threshold for reporting and sharing indications of malicious cyber activity," CISA wrote.
Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, kicking off a war all over the country.
In light of the attack, the hacker community started rallying to help Ukrainians. With Anonymous being the most prominent one, numerous hacker groups and researchers partake in various campaigns to help Ukraine.
Cyber activists targeted Russian government websites, Russian state-controlled media outlets TASS, Kommersant, Izvestia, Fontanka, and RBC, pushing them offline. Russian carrier Aeroflot and major lender Sberbank were also experiencing outages and access issues.
The German branch of the Anonymous collective also claims to have stolen 20 terabytes of data from the German arm of Rosneft, Russia's state energy company.
Ukrainian authorities reported that 10 million people were displaced due to the conflict, with over 3.3 million fleeing the country.
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