By Christina Young
Just like the boyfriend or girlfriend that does not give you any space, Russia has been sticking its nose into America’s business where it is not wanted. Obama accused Russia of hacking into major US computer systems and using the hacked information to tamper with the US elections. But how much do we actually know about the hacks? I want to answer three questions about the Russia hacks: is the Russian government behind it, how should America react to the attacks, and how much damage could Russia inflict if they launched a full-scale cyber-attack against the US?
Who is behind the cyberattacks? After investigations, intelligence agents reported that Vladimir Putin personally ordered the attacks. Their report stated that Russian officials stole important information for seven months before being caught. Putin, on the other hand, denies having anything to do with the attacks, saying, “Anybody, even someone lying on their sofa, could have hacked the Democratic National Committee.” Trump sides with Putin saying “It could be China, it could also be lots of other people.” As both sides report opposite stories and neither side is willing to budge, we still don’t know who is actually behind the attacks.
How should America react to the attacks? Obama responded to the attacks by expelling thirty-five Russian diplomats, imposing sanctions on Russia, and publicly blaming Russian leaders. This strong response will deter Russia from future cyber-attacks. However, if Russia is innocent, then this is a major and regrettable faux pas in the international sphere.
How much damage could Russia inflict through cyber-attacks? During the war between Russia and Ukraine, Russia used cyber-attacks to turn off the power-grid in Kiev. Some worry that Russia will do this to major US cities. In answer, experts say that a major power outage is more likely to be caused by squirrels than by Russian hackers (a reference to the time a squirrel shut down NASDAQ for an hour and a half after getting caught in the system). It is doubtful that Russia has the ability to attack American power grids, and even more doubtful that Russia is motivated to cause such attacks. Needless to say, information is powerful and intelligence agencies will be more protective in the future.
While I doubt the released information greatly affected the actual results of the election and I’m not afraid of apocalyptic power outages around the nation, it is disturbing that hackers so easily got ahold of classified information. But with a new president, the situation is up in the air—maybe Putin and Trump’s bromance will smooth things over between their countries.