The statement that the US military is not directly involved in the Russian-Ukrainian war is untrue. They do, but at the same time they are outside Ukraine. These are military hackers from US Cyber Command units.
The commander of the US Cyber Command, four-star General Paul Nakasone, who, among other things, also serves as director of the National Security Agency said about this in an interview to Sky News.
For the first time, General Nakasone has confirmed that the United States is conducting offensive hacking operations in support of Ukraine in response to the Russian invasion. “We’ve conducted a series of operations across the full spectrum; offensive, defensive, [and] information operations,” he said.
The general did not elaborate on the details of the cyberattacks, but stressed that they were all carried out legally in accordance with Pentagon policy and under civilian supervision.
“My job is to provide a series of options to the secretary of defence and the president, and so that’s what I do,” Nakasone said, again without elaborating on the options. But the general said that unlike Russia, which conducts information operations based on lies, the United States seeks to tell the truth strategically. From this we can conclude that in the first place it is information operations.
In addition, General Paul Nakasone explained how certain Hunt forward operations allow the United States to search for foreign hackers and identify their tools before they are used against America. Hunt forward is a type of cyber operation developed under the leadership of General Nakasone, which is a key aspect of the Cyber Command partnership. “They are so powerful because of the fact that we see our adversaries and we expose their tools,” Nakasone said.
Cyber Command specialists have been deployed abroad to 16 other nations where they can seek intelligence from the allies’ computer networks “always on a consensual, invitation basis”, General Nakasone said.
“If you’re an adversary, and you’ve just spent a lot of money on a tool, and you’re hoping to utilise it readily in a number of different intrusions, suddenly it’s outed and it’s now been signatured across a broad range of networks, and suddenly you’ve lost your ability to do that,” the general said.
In one such hunt forward deployment, US military specialists had been present in Ukraine very close to the date of the invasion.
“We went in December 2021 at the invitation of the Kyiv government to come and hunt with them. We stayed there for a period of almost 90 days,” the general said.
In February 2022, before the invasion began, the US Cyber Command unit, along with other Defense Department personnel, left Ukraine.
Regarding the possibility of Russian cyberattacks aimed directly at the United States, General Nakasone said: “We remain vigilant every single day. Every single day. I think about it all the time. This is why we’re working with a series of partners to ensure we prevent that, not only against the United States but against our allies as well.”