COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The White House is on high alert for cyber-attacks from Russia.
And with President Joe Biden issuing a warning to Americans about the potential threat, a former White House advisor is urging U.S. businesses to take precautions.
“So far we haven’t seen any serious attacks from Russia, but the threat is there, the threat is real,” says Eric Greenwald, who works as General Counsel for Finite State.
It’s been over a month since Russia invaded Ukraine.
But as Russian forces wage war overseas, there is a different peril threatening America’s homeland, with White House officials warning American businesses to “lock their digital doors.”
“With the lack of specifics, it’s hard to know exactly what people should be doing, exactly where the threat may be coming from,” admits Greenwald, a Columbus native, who previously served as a White House advisor.
It was a week ago Monday that Biden and his security staff warned Russia could target American businesses in cyberspace.
“There was some preparatory activity that we’re seeing and that is what we shared in a classified context with companies who we thought might be affected,” said Anne Neuberger, the Deputy National Security Advisor.
Greenwald says that there are a number of steps businesses can, and should, take to protect one of their most valuable assets — their data.
“It is the basic blocking and tackling of cyber security,” Greenwald admits. “It is instituting two-factor authentication for remotely accessible systems, it is developing a cyber incident response plan, it is making sure you actually keep logs of activity on your systems.”
All the steps that Greenwald says businesses should have already been taking over the past several years.
Greenwald expects Russia could target American banking systems, the government systems, and the power grid to make the biggest impact.
But Russian-controlled ransomware gangs threaten everyday Americans as well.
“Those ransomware gangs go after a wide range of targets, including small businesses. Those operations might very well target small businesses located in Ohio,” Greenwald warns.
And while there haven’t been any attacks this far, Greenwald again reminds the threat from Russia is real.
“I think they find themselves in a different realm from what they expected, and have to start thinking about, ‘Okay, what can we do to improve our chances on the ground in Ukraine, what do we can we do to keep western allies from imposing stiff economic sanctions against us,'” lays out Greenwald.
Greenwald admits there is a lot of speculation about what escalation in cyberspace looks like.
He says if there were to be a severe cyber-attack in America, the response could very well be a military operation as opposed to cyber response.