Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., said today he has found the lack of Russian cyberattacks thus far “surprising,” and warned the United States and other countries “to expect more to happen.”

At an event today hosted by the Information Technology Industry Council and Bridge for Innovation, Sen. Peters said that following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine there’s “no question” there will be more cyberattacks to come.

“Given what’s happening in Ukraine, we’ve got to expect more to happen,” Sen. Peters said. “Particularly as Mr. Putin continues to be stalled in his efforts – thanks to the amazing courage of the Ukrainian people who are fighting back on the ground – but we would expect that cyber will be coming.”

Earlier this week, President Biden and White House national security officials issued a warning that the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks against U.S. critical infrastructure. The warning comes after the administration continues to see “preparatory activity” for attacks from Russia.

The substance of the latest warning to critical infrastructure sectors matches up with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) “shields up” advisory to those sectors on Feb. 18 in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This is very real. It’s actually somewhat surprising that we haven’t seen more cyberattacks, that was not what we anticipated, particularly attacks even in Ukraine,” Sen. Peters said. “There’s a lot of speculation as to why that’s happening right now, and part of it is because you have boots on the ground and tanks and artillery – a kinetic force is what’s engaged in Ukraine.”

“But I would not take that as any indication of what the future may be,” he continued. “We know the Russians are very capable with cyberattacks. We expect that they will do that. And Putin has basically said anybody who’s assisting the Ukrainian effort for their freedom, could be and will be a potential target. So we have to be ready.”

Sen. Peters also said he hopes Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the cyber threats that come with it will serve as an “extra push” for the Senate-passed cybersecurity package that would modernize the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and codify the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) to reach the finish line.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.