Russia cyber actors ‘very active’: Here’s how the US will play defense

If the United States does not work together on cybersecurity, it will remain vulnerable to attacks that could cripple the nation’s infrastructure, according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“What we see the adversaries doing is crowdsourcing, using bots, paid influencers, their governments – they’re using anyone and everyone that can attack us,” Nielsen told FOX Business’ Deirdre Bolton on Tuesday at the National Cybersecurity Summit in New York. “The biggest threat is if we don’t work together to counter that.”

Nielsen said the U.S.’s biggest foes all have “slightly different motives,” but Russia has been “very active” and has no plans to let up anytime soon. Russian hackers have been accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election and targeting industrial control systems and routers.

The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on Russia and filed indictments on Russian officials to mitigate risks, however they are still trying to infiltrate the system, she said.

“They certainly continue to scan and attempt to access our systems in the U.S.,” Nielsen said. “There was one limited distribution asset that they did attack – it would not have an effect on the larger grid.”

But above all, Nielsen is most concerned that the U.S. is lagging behind on innovation.

“They [enemies] continue to innovate daily, sometimes by the minute, in terms of the different ways they are attacking us,” she said. “But really it’s the evolving threats,” she added. “I worry that at the given times we might not have the authority and resources we need to combat them effectively.”

The DHS and Department of Energy will coordinate to create the National Risk Management Center, she said, aimed at guarding the nation from major cyberattacks.

They are also working on a variety of initiatives, from exchanging partners with the private sector to working with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), to develop a whole new system that would hire federal employees based on their skill sets in the cybersecurity industry.