ST. LOUIS — The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv is under attack and expected to fall in hours to days. This comes as world leaders make an unprecedented move to stop the Russian advance, activating the NATO Response Force for the first time.

President Joe Biden announced the deployment of additional forces to bolster support in the region. Troops bore down on Ukraine’s capital Friday.

Gunfire and explosions closed in on the government quarter in Kyiv, increasing fears that Vladimir Putin may be seeking to overthrow Ukraine’s government.

Meanwhile, the United States is bracing for Russian cyberattacks. Authorities said potential targets include electrical grids, banking systems, and cell phone networks.

St. Louis-area leaders are speaking out about the threat. Experts said people should not panic over a potential cyberattack. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is prepared to respond to any possible threats to the homeland. 

Scott Schaffer with BladeTechnologies, an industry-leading St. Louis IT support company, said President Biden has designated the Department of Homeland Security as the lead federal agency to coordinate domestic preparedness and response efforts should the need arise.

Schaffer said as the situation evolves in Ukraine, organizations regardless of size, are encouraged to improve both their physical and cyber resilience. 

“Really what we need to do now as citizens, or computer users, is that we always need to keep our eyes open,” said Schaffer. “The Department of Homeland Security has put CISA in place at cisa.gov, and they’ve got a site called “Shields Up” that gives you an idea of what you need to look out for.” 

Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner is the vice-ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She also serves on the Europe subcommittee and is a former ambassador. Wagner said businesses and local governments should be vigilant against potential ransomware attacks. 

“Yes, we should be preparing for cyber attacks. We get them every single day,” said Wagner. “I think the United States is able to both fend many of those off and push back in a counteroffensive type of way. I’m concerned.” 

CISA’s “Shield Up” webpage provides valuable information on how to improve cybersecurity, as well as helpful tips on how you can prepare. 

For more information, visit: https://www.cisa.gov/shields-up