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The U.S. military said it dispatched a cyber team to Lithuania to expose malign activity and strengthen the country’s networks amid mounting Russian aggression in Ukraine and threat to its neighbors.

Hunt-forward operations incorporate the deployment of teams to other countries to stop malicious cyber activity. The current operation lasted three months, beginning before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, and concluded this week, according to It included experts dispatched to monitor systems, identify threats and vulnerabilities, and relay insights to sharpen defenses.

Lithuania and the United States partner closely on cyber defense. The Regional Cyber Defense Center established in Lithuania last summer serves as the main platform for practical Lithuanian-American cooperation, and it has already been joined by Ukraine and Georgia.

Meanwhile, US National Security Agency’s director of cybersecurity Rob Joyce said vigilante hacking, the sort seen as Ukraine confronts another Russian invasion, is inadvisable and raises broader questions of ethics and consequences in the digital domain.

Civil vigilantes joining in a nation-state attack are not only operating illegally but also in an “unwise” way, he said, because the US is “trying to get Russia to take account for the ransomware attacks and hacks that come out of Russia and emanate.”

Hundreds of thousands of volunteers from across the world have reportedly coalesced around Ukraine’s call for digital talent and cyber specialists, forming a so-called IT army outside typical government oversight.

The crowdsourced efforts, the efficacy of which is difficult to gauge, blur the line between traditional cyber maneuvers executed by world powers and fringe advocacy in an increasingly digital ecosystem, according to They could also complicate negotiations and de-escalation at a time of serious peril.