Since the war began in Ukraine, the United States has sent several specialized teams to help European countries feeling vulnerable to Russian cyberattacks but France, on the other side, is concerned that this could risk opening the gate to broader espionage operations, a French general has warned.
According to General Aymeric Bonnemaison, the head of France’s Cyber Defense Command, European countries are making themselves susceptible to Washington’s intelligence gathering.
By allowing Washington’s cyber defense teams to monitor their networks, they risk exposing themselves to US espionage, Bonnemaison pointed out as cited by the Le Monde newspaper.
Bonnemaison’s concerns come as Washington boosts its cyber forces abroad in light of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine after he noted in a press briefing earlier last week that the US cyber defense teams’ increased activities on European networks raise questions.
Bonnemaison also emphasized American operations, describing them as “relatively aggressive”, during a closed-door hearing at the National Assembly’s Defense Committee last month.
According to the French cyber defense commander, Washington’s allies were exposing themselves to possible espionage by allowing US cyber experts into their sensitive networks, warning them that, while they offer protection, American teams also go quite far in terms of intrusion, but their presence is marked by their service to diplomacy.
According to the US Cyber Command – which has conducted 35 such operations in 18 countries as of August 2022- a partner nation can request that US teams deploy strictly defensive hunt forward operations (HFOs) on the host country’s network.
Back in November, the Cyber Command announced that it had deployed its largest hunt forward team yet to help Ukraine track malicious activities.
Per its statement, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Ukraine are among the countries where Cybercom has conducted operations, stressing it remains committed and continues to provide support all other allies and partner nations, with US joint forces aligned and supporting the European Theater.