By John Ensor •
Published: 07 Dec 2023 • 20:47
Image of UK and Russian flags.
Credit: Alexey Struyskiy/Shutterstock.com
Today, the UK and its allies brought to light a series of cyber intrusions by Russian Intelligence aimed at high-profile figures and organisations, intending to disrupt UK political and democratic processes.
On Thursday, December 7, it was disclosed that Centre 18, part of Russia’s FSB, spearheaded these cyberespionage efforts. Star Blizzard, an entity believed to be under FSB Centre 18’s control, executed these operations, according to a report from Gov.UK.
Despite some successful data breaches, these incursions haven’t swayed UK politics or democratic integrity. Known also as Callisto Group, SEABORGIUM, or COLDRIVER, Star Blizzard is staffed by FSB officers.
They have manipulated information releases, aligning with Russia’s confrontational objectives and eroding trust in UK politics.
Among their tactics were spear-phishing attacks against MPs from various parties since 2015. They also orchestrated the pre-2019 General Election leak of UK-US trade documents, previously linked to Russia in a 2020 Ministerial Statement.
Furthermore, the 2018 hack of the Institute for Statecraft and the recent breach of its founder’s account, resulting in document leaks, were attributed to them.
Star Blizzard’s targets included universities, journalists, public bodies, NGOs, and civil society groups – all vital to UK democracy. Following an investigation, the UK sanctioned two Star Blizzard members for spear-phishing activities and sensitive data theft, aimed at undermining UK entities and government.
These sanctions, in partnership with the US, add to ongoing efforts to counter Russian cyber malfeasance threatening the UK’s integrity and prosperity. Concurrently, the US Department of Justice has indicted the same individuals.
Ruslan Aleksandrovich Peretyatko, an FSB officer, and Andrey Stanislavovich Korinets, alias Alexey Doguzhiev, are the sanctioned individuals. The Russian Ambassador was summoned to address these concerns, highlighting the gravity of Russia’s cyber meddling in the UK and beyond.
Foreign Secretary David Cameron said: ‘We will continue to work together with our allies to expose Russian covert cyber activity and hold Russia to account for its actions.’
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden commented: ‘As I warned earlier this year, state actors, and the “Wagner-style” sub-state hackers they use to do their dirty work, will continue to target our public institutions and our democratic processes.
‘We will continue to call this activity out, to raise our defences, and to take action against the perpetrators.’
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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