Weighing the Risks That Could Come Along With Potential Russian Cyberattacks

Cybersecurity experts are looking into whether Vladimir Putin, facing stiff economic sanctions in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, could target the U.S. in a cyberwar — and what could happen if he did

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As NATO countries continue to support Ukraine with supplies and humanitarian relief, many expect Russia to look for ways to get Ukraine's allies to back down. And while Vladimir Putin has alluded to his nuclear arsenal, experts say it is more likely he will launch a cyberwar.

"It's much easier to deliver a cyberattack than a conventional attack," said cybersecurity expert John Moynihan.



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He says Russia has advanced capabilities that would allow it to paralyze U.S. banks, businesses, and infrastructure, such as dams and electrical grids.

As NATO countries continue to support Ukraine, experts say cybersecurity should be a concern back home. Josephine Wolff of Tufts University discusses the risk and some ways you can protect yourself.

Lisa Swain says she thinks about these things all the time.

"Especially because there isn't really great security now with things, and I feel like, I've already had my identity stolen before, so if something like that could happen to more people, that could be dangerous," she said.

"All depends what kind," Moynihan said. "A destructive attack that did destroy our infrastructure, our ability to deliver water, remove sewage, our ability to get power would [be dangerous]."

Moynihan says if the cyber event caused physical destruction or harm to a person, it could be considered an act of war — or if an aviation industry attack caused a plane to crash, or if an electrical grid was not just disabled, but destroyed.

"What keeps me up at night is an all-out destructive attack," he said. "So if there was a destructive attack on us or one of our allies, we would have to respond with our offensive capabilities."

"I think I could withstand just about anything except nuclear to help them, period," said Jim Capobianco of Framingham.

"When I'm starting thinking about it, I'm getting scared," added Magdalena Hooper of Framingham.

Moynihan says his biggest cyber concern is people for example, an employee may accidentally open a malicious email that could reverse all the protections that an organization has put in place.

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