The rusty cannons and stone fortresses dotting harbours across Australia were largely designed to deter a feared Russian invasion in the 1800s. As we know, they were never used in anger; that invasion never eventuated.
Russia featured in our Cold War thinking too – with a lot more justification – but for the last 20 or more years, that has diminished.
Russian actions in Ukraine have certainly brought it back into focus.
When Australian cybersecurity experts consider nation-state cyber aggressors, they tend to think of China. Russia follows a distant one or two countries behind.
Interestingly, when you speak to western European security counterparts, the order is reversed. It’s easy to put the difference down to geography and spheres of influence. But there’s more to it.
Absolutely, China has been, and remains, a significant threat to Western nations in terms of their cyber capacity: espionage and audacious acts of intellectual property theft are routinely traced back to China.
No doubt electronic warfare would be a key weapon in the unlikely event of a shooting war, that’s clear. But in terms of outright nation-state online aggression, it’s hard to go past Russia.