Russia plans to significantly strengthen its cyber-offensive capabilities, and intends to create a cyber-deterrent that will equate to the role played by nuclear weapons.
The level of investment entailed in the implementation of these plans has not been disclosed, however sources close to the Russian Ministry of Defence told SCMagazineUK.com that it is likely to be in the range of US$ 200 million to US$ 250 million (apx £140 million to £170 million) per year.
As part of these plans particular attention is to be paid to the development and delivery of malicious programs which have the ability to destroy the command and control systems of enemy armed forces, as well as elements of critcal infrastructure, including the banking system, power supply and airports of an opponent.
A spokesman for the Russian Federal Security Service (who requested anonymity) said that the creation of this deterrent system is in response to similar plans announced by the US at the beginning of 2015.
In March 2015 Admiral Michael Rogers, head of the NSA and US Cyber Command, announced that the US plans to significantly strenghthen its military capabilities in cyber-space. At that time Rogers said that he considered Russia, along with Iran, China and North Korea, among the major threats to US state security in the IT sphere.
According to the same Russian Federal Security Service spokesman, the majority of countries, including Russia, are trying to prevent any conflict in cyber-space, but in his view, the US is seen as pushing an arms race in this area. He adds that while the establishment of a deterrence system in cyber-space is a very complex task, the creation and distribution of malicious computer programs is much easier than the creation of an atomic bomb. Moreover, accurate attribution of sources of cyber-attack is always impossible, even for the most skilled experts.
The same view is shared by Valery Yaschenko, first deputy director of the Institute for Information Security Issues of the Moscow State University. As he told SCMagazineUK.com, the establishment of a cyber-space deterrent will create serious difficulties for Russia as, in contrast to the nuclear deterrent, cyber-technologies are not associated with mutual destruction.
Dmitry Mikhailov, head of the Center for Cyber Security at the Russian National Research Nuclear University emphasised to SC that Russia currently does not lag behind the United States in terms of military cyber-technologies. Mikhailov commented: "Russia has experienced some IT security problems, however our hackers are among the best in the world. In the case of cyber-attacks, the most important thing is not related to material assets, but the skillful use mathematical algorithms. We have a great potential in this area."