The US Cyber Command conducted a cyber-attack on Russian’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) to prevent it from conducting a defamatory campaign during 2018 midterm elections in the USA, according to the The Washington Post (WP). US officials told the newspaper, on condition of anonymity, that they were able to cut IRA off the Internet for several days. The Russian President’s Press Secretary, however, questioned the reliability of WP sources. The Russian Federal News Agency (FAN) claimed that FAN was the actual victim of the attack, since it had sent employees of its subsidiary, USAReally, to the USA to observe the midterm elections. FAN said it is not connected to the IRA, does not interfere with elections or conduct other illegal activities. Its internal investigation concluded that the USA failed to cut FAN off the Internet; parts of the server that were disabled were promptly replaced, and new mirrors created for USAReally continued working as usual.
Cyber-attacks can have a background in international relations, or bring about the consequences that can escalate to a political and diplomatic level. An increasing number of states appear to be developing their own cyber-tools for the defense, offence and intelligence related to cyberconflict.
The use of cyber-weapons by states - and, more generally, the behavior of states in cyberspace in relation to maintaining international peace and security - is moving to the top of the international agenda.