The UK has been warned to expect Vladimir Putin to unleash a new kind of warfare as Russia has a huge stock pile of malware ready to hit the West in retaliation to economic sanctions.
Many countries around the world have issued severe economic sanctions against Russia a former British diplomat Danny Lopez said.
The Kremlin has unleashed a whole range of cyber attacks against the Ukraine whilst Anonymous have hacked more than 300 government sites in Russia.
Lopez fears these attacks will be ramped up as Russia is becoming increasingly desperate both with sanctions a crumbling economy and and army who are facing fierce resistance by the Ukraine’s.
“You can increase the strength of those sanctions day by day, and we absolutely should, but it’s still unclear as to when they start really working, and there will be a degree of pain that comes with them,” Lopez told Metro.co.uk.
“The risks are absolutely huge. I genuinely think that organisations, not just in the Ukraine but also in this country, need to prepare for an attack.
“Regardless of how this plays out, the intensity, number and harshness of our sanctions is going to increase.
“Just as those sanctions are ready to be released, Russian sponsored cyber attacks have been developed for the last few months.
“There’s no doubt an inventory of prepared malware that can be deployed to exploit weaknesses. And they are going to be deployed on the countries that lead the charge in sanctions.
“It’s not like the cyber bad actors are waiting to come up with this – they have a stockpile of malware that can be deployed whenever they want.
“They will be monitoring weaknesses and specific threat vectors over the past weeks, months and years, and will be ready to exploit them, there’s absolutely no doubt about that.”
“We have to be prepared for the fact that this is now a zero-day vulnerability nightmare that everybody has to be ready for,” Lopez added.
“Digital capabilities that we’re so used to in our day-to-day lives can be brought to their knees very quickly.
“It can have a big impact on the services that we just take for granted every day.
“I think it’s important to realise that more sanctions mean greater threats when it comes to malicious code coming our way and we need to expect and prepare for an attack.
“Everything comes at a cost, but it has to be done. We’re talking about the right to self determination, we’re talking about sovereignty.
“We have to defend this.”
Western allies have been warned to “be prepared for the pain,” both from the economic fallout from cutting off Russia’s economy, and retaliatory cyber attacks.