The Russian bear in the room

I love our big ole' bear who hails from Russia that illustrates our lead feature online and in our more traditional hard copy edition this month. He's cheeky, haughty, seemingly quite savvy and definitely bold.

These traits are trying to be conveyed with purpose, as he's supposed to visually represent just one of the ways Russia is getting “its superpower on.” As Executive Editor Teri Robinson discusses in our main story and as a legion of actions those in power there have taken over these last few years -- certainly, since Vladimir Putin took over, Russia does seem “determined to reassert itself as a superpower.” Recent events show he is leveraging technical and cybersecurity experts to target countries with attacks and schemes to advance numerous political goals.

Just how Russia is doing this is a primary topic of discussion and speculation among world leaders, special ops agents and average citizens alike. Interesting is some of the insight shared by industry experts in SC's lead piece this month. Notably, Nick Bilogorskiy, cybersecurity strategist with Juniper Networks, states that “Russia currently appears to be heavily investing in cyberweapons – and making rapid progress in this area – because it enables them to compensate for limitations in the size of their economy and demographics.”

Other countries are squarely in this game, too, including ours. The difference between those others and Russia, though, is that the latter steadfastly seems set on widening the gap of a fiercely sought-after lead position in the cyber realm, say experts. And, they're investing and making whatever moves necessary to do it.

So, at this point, there really should be no arguments about Russia's goals and the tactics they're engaging in to execute them. Current and former U.S. officials are sharing insight about just some of the country's actions aimed at the U.S. regularly. For example, recently, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, Jeanette Manfra, publicly stated that Russians not only penetrated U.S. voter systems in 2016 but some of the 21 states targeted, were breached.

Undoubtedly, there is still more we U.S. citizens need to understand, learn about and digest. Hopefully, in coming months, whatever DOJ investigations and congressional queries will reveal some truth. We all should be craving that and whatever the resulting consequences, as well as a thorough buttressing of security controls to our critical infrastructure and its multifarious systems.

No matter one's vote in our last presidential election, all U.S. citizens should care and be concerned about the possibility of a wannabe superpower trying to pummel the pillars that support our democracy. Being from a military family, I've always looked at concepts like truth, courage, honor, and commitment as ideas to hold dear. In times like these, such worthy notions shouldn't be trampled on by mere tertiary, often duplicitous, and always tenuous political party lines. There's a Russian bear in the room. Let's all acknowledge it. 

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