U.S. intelligence officials are warning that the United States is considering launching cyber attacks against Russian interests, in retaliation for potential interference by Russian hackers in the upcoming American presidential election.
NBC News reports of the existence of "top-secret cyber weapons" — basically malware that is under the control of United States Cyber Command — that the U.S. military has in place in key control systems in Russia, including telecommunications, power grids, and the Kremlin’s own command and control systems.
These malware packages are presumed to be commonly used amongst world powers as potential weapons, left dormant in the opposing powers’ systems by hackers performing standard scouting missions. These packages, while not intended to be used immediately, leave the option open for the agency that implanted them to activate them, should the need arise.
While intelligence officials don’t expect direct interference with U.S. infrastructure, they’re anticipating the possibility of "cyber mischief", that may entail the dissemination of fake documents and the creation of false social media accounts aimed at spreading misinformation. However, there is the suspicion that the recent directed denial of service (DDoS) attacks conducted against service provider Dyn and the country of Liberia could have been preambles to a much more ambitious attack — for instance disrupting internet access in swing states, to confuse communications there.