US Cyber Command team helps Lithuania protect its networks

May 4, 2022, 9:04 PM | Updated: May 5, 2022, 2:52 pm
FILE - U.S. Cyber Command head, National Security Agency Director and Central Security Service Chie...

FILE - U.S. Cyber Command head, National Security Agency Director and Central Security Service Chief Gen. Paul Nakasone attends a Senate Armed Services hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. The Pentagon’s cyber arm says a team spent months working with officials in Lithuania to help protect government networks there from cyberattacks. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon’s cyber arm says a team spent months working with officials in Lithuania to help protect government networks there from cyberattacks.

The U.S. Cyber Command mission, known as a hunt forward operation, involved a specialized team that worked side-by-side with Lithuanian officials to identify vulnerabilities and root out any malicious cyber activity on the networks of the country’s foreign affairs ministry and defense systems. It ended this month.

The three-month operation coincided with Russia’s war against Ukraine and was part of an ongoing effort by the Cyber Command to work with foreign governments that want help protecting their networks.

In the last several years, the Cyber National Mission Force has conducted 28 hunt forward operations in 16 countries, including Estonia, Ukraine, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

“These were countries that had asked for our assistance, deploying our defensive teams forward, being able to identify malware and tradecraft our adversaries were using, and then sharing that broadly with a commercial provider,” Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of the Cyber Command, said Wednesday in describing the operations.

The start of the Lithuania operation predated the Russia-Ukraine war, which was launched by Russia on Feb. 24 and has involved persistent hacking by Russian forces though caused ultimately less damage than many observers had anticipated.

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US Cyber Command team helps Lithuania protect its networks