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U.S. Cyber Command operation disrupted Internet access of Russian troll factory on day of 2018 midterms

In its first notable “offensive” operation, U.S. Cyber command blocked access to the Russian Internet Research Agency on the day of the 2018 election in order to prevent any potential interference. Russia (and other actors) continue to take the lead in cyber and influence operations against the United States and its allies without substantive in-kind responses, so this action was a marked departure from previous U.S restraint. Officials note that the goal was to get ahead of Russian efforts to promote “disinformation” that would “cast doubt on the results”, which is a tactic that Russia has used successfully in at least one former Soviet Union state. Also relevant was the nature of the campaign was the United States cyber operatives’ decision to show the Russian hackers that the U.S. knew their real names in order to deter their activities. Permission for such activity came from a presidential order in August of 2018 that “gave Cybercom greater latitude to undertake offensive operations below the level of armed conflict”.
Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post
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