A US Cyber Command task force conducted its “first offensive cyber effect operation” in 2021 as Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin watched the operation, The Warzone reported on Thursday.
Cyber Command has gone on the offensive before, but this operation was the first offensive one for this particular task force, which consisted of US military cyber personnel from the Air National Guard, the Air Force, and the Navy.
Maryland’s Air National Guard announced the operation for the first time on Tuesday and said it was conducted from February 2021 to August 2021. US Air Force Maj. Corley Bradford described the operation as “successful” and added that Austin was there to witness the “massive milestone.”
The target of the operation is unknown, but in early 2021, there were US threats of cyberattacks against Russia. A March 2021 report from The New York Times said the US was preparing to hit Russia with a cyberattack.
The potential cyberattacks on Russia were framed as retaliation for the SolarWinds hack that affected several US government agencies. But attributing cyber activity is extremely difficult, and the US never presented evidence that Russia was behind the hack.
Cyberattacks have increasingly become an offensive tool for the US military and intelligence agencies. Yahoo! News reported last year that President Trump authorized the CIA to conduct offensive cyberattacks in 2018. After the 2020 election, Gen. US Cyber Command Chief Gen. Paul Nakasone said his command took action against “adversaries” to prevent so-called election interference.