Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has warned that the United States must take serious measures to avoid being vulnerable to a second cyberattack from the Russian Federation, especially as the Putin-led nation could potentially have the ability to cut American food and water supply lines next time.
According to New York Daily News, the senator made the comments on Sunday’s Meet the Press after discussing the serious hack that gave Russia access to multiple government agencies and American companies. Major facets of the American political sphere — such as the Defense and Homeland Security Departments, the Energy Department, and the Treasury and Commerce Departments — were all invaded. Many of the businesses that were hacked included Fortune 500 companies.
Romney warned that another attack could have even more serious consequences for the country.
“They potentially have the capacity to cripple us economically, they went to our businesses. They have the potential to also cripple us with regards to our water and electricity and so forth,” he said.
“They don’t need rockets to take those things out,” the former Massachusetts governor added.
Foreign policy experts have long alleged that Russia already has experience with such cyber warfare and targeted the electric grid in Ukraine back in 2015. Though residents were without power for only six hours, lingering problems persisted for two months, per Wired. Ukraine accused Russia of orchestrating the attack, though Russia has never officially been found culpable.
“This attack was relatively short-lived and benign. The next one might not be,” warned Wired reporter Kim Zetter.
The vulnerability of the United States’ energy infrastructure has long been a concern to defense officials, and President Donald Trump even created a task force this past May to better handle potential threats, per Forbes.
In addition, Romney appeared to suggest a much harsher form of retaliation to the cyberattack than just task forces. The senator demanded that the United states “address” the hack, and put the option of a counterattack on the table.
“I don’t know if we have the capacity to do that in a way that would be of the same scale or even greater scale than what Russia has applied to us, but this is something we have to address as soon as possible,” he said.
Already, the U.S. has made some moves to highlight its fractured relationship with Russia. For example, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently announced that the State Department had decided to close the last two remaining consulates in the Russian Federation, per The Inquisitr.