Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Network conference on Tuesday, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said that in response to election meddling, the United States is ramping up cyber operations targeting Russia and other so-called adversaries.
The U.S. government traditionally has carried out offensive cyber-operations in the electoral context, such as a 2018 Cyber Command operation that interrupted the internet access of a Russian organization that spread political disinformation on social media.
Bolton added that Washington had taken steps to create “structures of deterrence” in cyberspace in order to stop interference in US elections, but what he described sounded a lot like launching a cyber war.
“We’re now looking at — beyond the electoral context — a whole range of other activities to prevent this other kind of cyber interference … in the economic space, as well,” Bolton said.
As a direct result of those new authorities and as part of its operation to protect the U.S. midterm elections in 2018, Cyber Command deployed personnel to Ukraine, Macedonia and North Montenegro.
American were sent to those countries to gather intelligence about Russian activities, and help officials in each nation defend their networks.
Bolton’s remarks Tuesday mark the first time a senior White House official has publicly acknowledged that the authorizations issued last year go beyond just election contexts.
“We’re now opening the aperture, broadening the areas we’re prepared to act in,” Bolton said Tuesday, also citing Russian activity and Chinese influence operations underway in the U.S