The US Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) deployed a team of cyberwarfare experts near Russia to conduct a “defensive hunt operation” amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The operation lasted for almost a month and was held in the Baltic NATO state of Lithuania, which borders Moscow’s heavily militarized Kaliningrad exclave.
The American cyber specialists analyzed critical networks for evidence of malicious cyber activities in cooperation with counterparts from the Lithuanian Interior Ministry Information Technology and Communications Department.
The teams also identified network vulnerabilities to prevent ransomware attacks, according to a report by Newsweek.
A spokesperson said the goal was to “defend the nation in and through cyberspace” by disrupting any attempt to steal intellectual property or attack critical military and civilian infrastructure.
The operation was the second US CYBERCOM has conducted amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The spokesperson explained that the mission was held because adversaries routinely conduct operations against their Lithuanian neighbors.
He further stated that as long as enemies target US-allied nations, CYBERCOM will be ready to deploy and hunt.
“We operate together in cyberspace to learn from one another and share information on threats which helps to harden/enhance the security of the networks on which the US and our ally depends,” the spokesperson told Newsweek.
Increasing Cyber Threats
Earlier this year, Google reported that Russian-linked cyberattacks in NATO countries increased by 300 percent in 2022.
Russian government-backed attackers reportedly ramped up cyber operations during the run-up to the invasion.
A recent report by Thales also claimed that Russia was hitting Poland and the Nordic and Baltic countries with an arsenal of cyber weapons to undermine support for Ukraine.
“In the third quarter of 2022, Europe was dragged into a high-intensity hybrid cyberwar at a turning point in the conflict,” company vice president Pierre-Yves Jolivet said.
Another NATO state, the UK, also reported being hit by more than six million cyber attacks last year amid the ongoing conflict in Eastern Europe and escalating tensions in Asia.