WASHINGTON – The US military says it has sent a cyber team to Lithuania to uncover malicious activity and strengthen the country’s networks amid growing Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.
The so-called harassment operation uses specialists to monitor systems, identify threats and vulnerabilities, and pass on insights to sharpen security. It lasted three months, starting before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February and ending this week.
The effort is “a great example of how cyberspace is a team sport and we need to play it together,” said Major General Joe Hartman, commander of the cyber mission force on May 4. “With these missions, we see a broader scope of how these bad actors are trying to attack important government networks.”
Lithuanian Ministry of Defense confirm operationalso.
Deputy Defense Minister Margiris Abukevichus said the war between Russia and Ukraine had shown “that cyber attacks are an integral part of modern military campaigns” and that preparedness is key. Ukrainian systems have been blown up daily with digital attacks, crippling communications and websites, among other consequences.
A previous pursuit team was sent to Ukraine in 2018, according to General Paul Nakasone, head of US cyber command and the National Security Agency. The help continued as Moscow has highlighted its latest invasion.
“Think about how much this has changed, even in the last few months,” Nakasone said at a security summit at Vanderbilt University on May 4. “What did we see with the Russia-Ukraine crisis?” Information used to build and maintain a coalition. Information used to detect malicious behavior. Information that is shared to increase the partner’s knowledge of the opponent. “
Some Russian neighbors are now stepping up their defenses and looking at their NATO allies amid worries that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet empire – speculation that also surfaced in 2014. The National Cyber Mission Force has spent 28 years pursuit missions in 16 countries, including Estonia, Montenegro and Northern Macedonia. Dozens of networks were reinforced in the process.
The operations offer “a key asymmetric advantage that our opponents do not have,” according to Hartmann, who also spoke at the Vanderbilt summit. “We can find our opponents in foreign lands before they can come to America and compromise our network. And as we do so, we can make our partners and allies safer. “
The latest hunt includes the CYBERCOM team and specialists from the National Cyber Security Center of Lithuania and the IT Defense Service. This was the first effort of its kind in between Lithuanian forces and the National Cyber Mission Force, according to the command.
Abukevichus said all participants left with a “wealth” of intelligence and skills.
Colin Demarest is a reporter for C4ISRNET, where he covers networks and IT. Colin had previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration – namely the development of nuclear weapons and the Cold War cleanup – for a South Carolina daily.