The US government is prepared to take countermeasures in the event of a Russian cyber-attack that could interfere with the upcoming presidential election, NBC News reported.
According to a senior intelligence official who spoke to NBC, the US is eyeing potential targets including Russia’s power grid, telecommunications systems, and the Kremlin’s command systems as potential targets if the US experiences a significant attack.
The US previously deployed cyberattacks during the Iraq War when it temporarily shut down the power grid in Baghdad, the NBC News report noted.
The White House and the Department of Homeland Security are spearheading the effort against possible cyber intrusion from Russian actors.
“I think there’s three things we should do if we see a significant cyber-attack,” retired Admiral James Stavridiss told NBC. “The first obviously is defending against it. The second is reveal: We should be publicizing what has happened so that any of this kind of cyber trickery can be unmasked. And thirdly, we should respond. Our response should be proportional,” he said.
Officials are concerned of a possible cyber-attack that would cripple some online services similar to the one that shut down large parts of the internet last month.
However, US officials believe Russia’s aim may be to undermine the election by spreading misinformation, but not go as far as launching a large-scale attack that would amount to an act of war.
Hackers would find it very difficult to meddle with actual votes as the election is designed to be decentralized and voting machines aren’t connected to the internet, officials said.
The US has taken the contingency measures as its relationship with Russia and President Vladimir Putin has grown increasingly hostile.
In a cryptic tweet Friday, a hacker officials suspect is linked to the Russian government that goes by the name “Guccifer 2.0″ invited other hackers to monitor the election “from inside the system.”
In October, The US Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence formally accused the Russian government of the Democratic Party hack that led to the release of thousands of emails involving Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Clinton said the hack was politically motivated and an attempt to sway the election in favor of Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
The Democratic nominee has questioned Trump’s praise of Putin and accused him of nefarious business deals with Russians.