Whether or not the US now has the power to effectively turn off Russia's electrical grids is both classified and perhaps impossible to know unless it is actually attempted, the Times concluded.
According to the Times, which cited "current and former officials" with knowledge of the situation, the Pentagon's U.S. Cyber Command has moved to act on new authorities and independence granted by the White House and Congress (which themselves build off attacks authorised by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama).
The US is escalating cyber attacks on Russia's electric power grid and has placed potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system, The New York Times reported yesterday. The article said it was a "demonstration" of the Trump administration's use of their new authorities.
The newspaper also said the U.S. Cyber Command, part of the Department of Defense, has explored the possibility that Russian Federation might try to initiate selective blackouts in key states to disrupt the 2020 election.
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According to the sources of the New York Times, the United States is attempting to implement programs that can gather information on the Russian power grid and, allegedly, placing crippling malware inside the system.
Trump has not been briefed on the operation because of "the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials".
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The incursion into the Russian electric power grid seems to have been conducted under new legal authorities in the military authorisation bill passed by Congress past year, the Times reports.
The newspaper's report, quoting unidentified current and former government officials, said the United States had stepped up cyber incursions to affect Russia's electric power grid as a way to punish Moscow's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and deter future cyberactivity by Russian Federation.
Under the law, those actions can now be authorised by the defence secretary without special presidential approval.
According to the newspaper, since at least 2012 the USA has put reconnaissance probes into the control systems of the Russian electric grid.
The commander of US Cyber Command, Gen. Paul Nakasone, has been outspoken about the need to "defend forward" deep in an adversary's networks to demonstrate that the US will respond to the barrage of online attacks aimed at it.