British Forces Practice Hacking Russian Power Grid

REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

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Gavin Hanson Contributor
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British forces have been testing their cyberwarfare capabilities alongside conventional maneuvers in Oman in an effort to ensure effective military deterrence that comes short of dropping nuclear weapons.

Joint cyber and military practice operations are being held in conjunction with Omani forces, according to The Sunday Times, in October. Though no specific dates are given, according to Saudi outlet Elaph, the operation is currently underway. A trial run for the procedures to electrically black out Moscow were reportedly on the docket for the maneuvers, dubbed Swift Sword 3.

For the British, these tests follow two poisonings in July attributed to the Russian government and an American indictment of seven Russian GRU hackers on Oct. 4. Governing and military officials in the United Kingdom who spoke to the Times have not been shy to reference Russia as the reason and target for these drills.

Russian aggression in similarly unstable or undefended regions like Libya or Estonian islands in the Baltic Sea is expected by officials who spoke with the Times. “This is why cyber is so important; you can go on the offensive and turn off the lights in Moscow to tell them that they are not doing the right things,” a senior source said in the Times report. The official stated that a large-scale cyberattack, like shutting off the lights in Russia’s capital, could bridge the gap between destroying the source of an attack and “dropping a nuclear weapon on northern Kamchatka.”

In the largest British military exercise in a decade, 5,000 troops join as many as 75,000 Omani forces throughout October in tactical exercises designed to counter “irregular” Russian military interference in the region.

The maneuvers targeting Russia make cyber capability a crucial component. Russian hackers have been notorious as of late after being implicated in the NotPetya ransomware attack and breaching the servers of a chemical weapons watchdog in April that was discovered on Oct. 4. (RELATED: DC Police Cameras Hacked Before Trump Inauguration. Defendants Plead Guilty)

The United States pledged on Oct. 3 to offer its cyberwarfare capabilities to NATO if asked, bolstering the bristles of these tests.

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