Russian Army To Feature Cyber-Defence Units By 2017

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The primary purpose of the new force is to protect military installations

The Russian government has announced plans to introduce specialised cyber-defence units as part of the regular army as soon as 2017.

According to RIA Novosti, the main task of the new force will be to protect critical military infrastructure against possible attacks by state-sponsored hackers or terrorists.

A different kind of war

In July 2013, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu instructed army officials to hire more programmers to protect the country from a growing number of cyber-attacks. In August, the Defence Ministry confirmed it was planning to introduce new cyberwarfare divisions, but it was not clear when such outfits would enter the army.

PhotoSkyOn Thursday, Major-General Yuri Kuznetsov revealed that new cyber-defence units will begin protecting the motherland by 2017. Their primary aim will be “to defend the Russian armed forces’ critical infrastructure from computer attacks,” he told a meeting of military officials.

The need for a specialised force became apparent as the Russian army increasingly relied on digital equipment in its daily operations. The new units will look after strategic assets such as command centres and aircraft and missile defence systems.

An example of how a proficient hacker could wreak havoc on the battlefield was seen in 2011, when Iranian engineers claimed to capture a US spy aircraft by hijacking its navigation systems.

The staff will be recruited in stages, and is likely to include experts in cryptography, radio and electronic security.

Security experts have previously suggested that the Russian government is relying on independent hacker groups to conduct cyberwarfare operations. For example in January, security technology vendor CrowdStrike discovered an organisation it called the “Energy Bear”, which was allegedly siphoning off information from hundreds of foreign companies on behalf of the Russian state.

The civilian population of Russia is protected by the Bureau of Special Technical Measures, which claims it prevented cybercriminals from stealing around $28 million (£17m) in 2013.

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