UK report highlights Russian cyber-meddling

UK report highlights Russian cyber-meddling

Britain and Australia have jointly accused Russia of using cyberattacks to spread confusion in sport, transport and elections in an effort to undermine the west.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) reported that Russian military intelligence (GRU) was a cyber aggressor using a network of hackers to spread discord.

The NCSC said hacks included confidential medical records held by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), which was investigating Russian-state doping and an unidentified British television station, whose email accounts were “accessed and content stolen” between July and August 2015. The broadcaster allegedly kept sensitive information on politicians and celebrities that could have been valuable to Russia.

It blamed the GRU for the breach of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, which affected the US presidential election, a ransomware attack that disrupted trains and an airport in Ukraine last year and Russian media groups.

The United States has already accused the GRU of staging cyberattacks before the 2016 election and has sanctioned GRU chief Igor Korobov for alleged actions.

The UK report said the GRU associated itself with a host of hackers involved in high-profile attacks, including APT 28, Fancy Bear, Sofacy, Pawnstorm, Sednit, CyberCaliphate, Cyber Berkut, Voodoo Bear and BlackEnergy Actors.

“The GRU’s actions are reckless and indiscriminate: they try to undermine and interfere in elections,” said UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The GRU’s attacks “serve no legitimate national security interest, instead impacting the ability of people around the world to go about their daily lives free from interference, and even their ability to enjoy sport”, Hunt added.

“Our message is clear: together with our allies, we will expose and respond to the GRU’s attempts to undermine international stability,” he said.

The Australian government was equally outspoken in its condemnation.

New Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his intelligence agencies, working with international allies, had concluded the GRU was responsible for a “pattern of malicious cyber activity”.

“While Australia was not significantly impacted, this activity affected the ability of the public in other parts of the world to go about their daily lives,” Morrison said.

“It caused significant, indiscriminate harm to civilian infrastructure and resulted in millions of dollars in economic damage, including in Russia.

“This is unacceptable and the Australian government calls on all countries, including Russia, to refrain from these types of malicious activities.”

A pro-EU campaigner in Birmingham at the weekend blames Russia for Donald Trump and Brexit. Picture credit: Eurasia Times

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