The risk is climbing that both Russia and China may look to bring an escalation in major cyberattacks against the U.S. and Western Europe, following Russian losses in Ukraine and the U.S. chip blockade against China, according to cybersecurity and geopolitics expert Dmitri Alperovitch.
"What I do think we're about to enter is probably one of the most dangerous times that we've had in the history of the cyber domain, when it comes to our infrastructure here in the West — both because of what Russia may be doing against us, as well as China," said Alperovitch, the co-founder and former CTO of CrowdStrike, on Wednesday during a livestream Q&A with The Washington Post.
When it comes to Russia, an increase in major cyberattacks against the West is looking a lot more likely as "we are entering a new phase of the conflict" over Ukraine, he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is "starting to realize that the war is not going well for him," Alperovitch said. "He's steadily losing territory, including territory that he has recently tried to annex. And that may mean that he's going to be much more willing to confront not just Ukraine, but also the West."
In terms of targeting the West, "Cyber probably is going to be his first weapon of choice," said Alperovitch, who is currently the co-founder and executive chairman of Silverado Policy Accelerator, a Washington think tank. The U.S. and Western European nations have provided substantial support to Ukraine, including weaponry, following Russia's invasion of the country in late February, which Alperovitch had predicted two months before it occurred.
Meanwhile, China may be jumping into the fray, too, in response to the recent U.S. move to block Chinese access to advanced chip technology, according to Alperovitch.
The U.S. chip blockade, he said, is "a declaration of economic war," and "I doubt that they will take it sitting down."
China’s leadership is currently preoccupied with this week's Communist Party congress, Alperovitch noted.
"But once they get past the Congress and the changes that Xi Jinping is implementing within the party, I think you will see retaliation both against American companies in China as well as potentially through cyber operations, to try to compensate for the loss of access to technology with IP theft," he said.
Update: The first sentence of this article was reworded to better describe the type of cyberattacks involved.