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World Hack, disinform, deny: Russia's cybersecurity strategy

06:50  25 may  2021
06:50  25 may  2021 Source:   afp.com

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The United States says that hackers of Russia ' s military intelligence (GRU) sought to manipulate the 2016 presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. The most famous cyberespionage group involved in dozens of cases is known as Fancy Bear or APT28. He did not rule out that, faced with the Russian threat and for want of a better alternative, "police in Europe and the United States might like to return to cooperating with Russia on cybersecurity ".

Examining three significant Russian cyber operations in depth shows how Russia ’ s views on information security and cooption of criminal hackers have played out in practice. According to a March 2017 indictment by the US Department of Justice, two officers in the FSB’s Center for Information Security masterminded a plot to employ two hackers to compromise Yahoo’s networks and email accounts associated with persons of interest to the Russian state.5 One of the criminals, Alexey Belan, was actually on the run from a US international arrest.

Over the years, Moscow has faced numerous allegations of cyberattacks that resulted in multiple sanctions and the expulsion of its diplomats. The term "hacker" has almost become synonymous with Russia.

a close up of the moon: Experts say that Russia heavily relies on its cyber and information warfare capabilities in its ongoing stand-off with the West © MANDEL NGAN Experts say that Russia heavily relies on its cyber and information warfare capabilities in its ongoing stand-off with the West

From "troll factories" to hackers allegedly controlled by the country's security services, here is an overview of the world of Russian cybercrimes:

- Skills -

Russia has for decades been a breeding ground for computer experts. During Soviet times, the government pushed for advances in science and technology, and -- with the appearance of the first computers -- in programming.

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Russia has emerged as a top global cyber power. The Russian government’s view and perception of the CS problem is different from most Western nations. This chapter examines key aspects of Russia ’ s CS-related regulatory framework and its CS strategy . Much of this chapter is laid out to illustrate how the cyberspace has become the focus of military, political, cultural, and economic security concerns for the Russian government. Russian Cyberwarfare Taxonomy and Cybersecurity Contradictions Between Russia and EU: Breakthroughs January 2019.

Hacks , leaks and disruptions | Russian cyber strategies . Russia ’ s cyber diplomacy has gone hand-in-hand with increasingly assertive behaviour in cyberspace. Quite a number of countries have ended up on the receiving end of Russian cyberattacks, some of them designed to sabotage physical infrastructure (e.g. Georgia, Estonia, Ukraine, Montenegro), and some designed to feed into information campaigns during election periods or at times of heightened diplomatic tensions with Russia (e.g. the US, France, the UK.)

With the fall of the USSR in 1991, some of the talented but underpaid programmers turned to cybercrime, soon making Russians notorious for credit card thefts around the world.

"In the 90s, the environment fermented, with a culture of resourcefulness and a tendency to circumvent the rules," said Kevin Limonier, of the French Institute of Geopolitics.

- Army and security services -

Experts say that in its persisting stand-off with the West, Russia heavily relies on its cyber and information warfare capabilities.

Several notorious hacking groups are suspected of working for the country's security services, and the Russian defence ministry established its own "cyber units" in 2012.

The first large-scale attack attributed to Russia goes back to 2007, when the Baltic state of Estonia faced a wave of cyberattacks on its newspapers, banks and government ministries.

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“We do not believe the Russian government was involved in this attack, but we do have strong reason to believe that the criminals who did the attack are living in Russia , that’ s where it came from,” he said. However, Kaspersky pointed to the list “of the countries under whose hacker groups this UMBRAGE is disguised – Russia , North Korea, China, Iran.” She claimed that “therefore, it cannot be said with certainty that the attack was carried out by a hacker group from Russia , and that it was not a provocation made themselves from there, or from some other country,” she said.

A national cybersecurity strategy (NCSS) is a plan of actions designed to improve the security and resilience of national infrastructures and services. It is a high-level top-down approach to cybersecurity that establishes a range of national objectives and priorities that should be achieved in a specific timeframe. ENISA’ s work in supporting these strategies has focused on the analysis of existing NCSS; on the development and implementation of NCSS; on outlining and raising awareness of good practice to provide guidance and practical tools to the Member States for evaluating their NCSS.

The United States says that hackers of Russia's military intelligence (GRU) sought to manipulate the 2016 presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The most famous cyberespionage group involved in dozens of cases is known as Fancy Bear or APT28. It is believed to be sponsored by the Russian government.

According to Washington, the attack targeting US software developer SolarWinds was carried out by the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service, and compromised government agencies and hundreds of private companies.

- Information and sabotage -

"Cyberattacks carried out by Russian secret services are part of multi-year international operations that are aimed at obtaining strategic information," German intelligence said in 2016, referring to espionage and sabotage operations.

The list of alleged Russian attacks is long: a hacking attack on the German parliament in 2015; targeting Ukrainian artillery units between 2014 and 2016; hacking of a French television network in 2015; meddling in US elections in 2016 and 2020, and targeting coronavirus vaccine research institutes in the West in 2020.

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The Russian government has denied claims that state-sponsored hackers have been stealing Covid-19 vaccine research. In addition to Forbes, her work can be found in publications including Wired, The Guardian, The Observer, The Times and The Economist. With a focus on smartphone security including Apple iOS security and privacy, application security , cyberwarfare and data misuse by the big tech firms, Kate reports and analyzes breaking cybersecurity and privacy stories and trending topics.

Our National Cyber Security Strategy sets out our plan to make Britain confident, capable and resilient in a fast-moving digital world. Over the lifetime of this five-year strategy , we will invest £1.9 billion in defending our systems and infrastructure, deterring our adversaries, and developing a whole-society capability – from the biggest companies to the individual citizen. • cyber-dependent crimes – crimes that can be committed only through the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) devices, where the devices are both the tool for committing the crime, and the target of the crime (e.g

Experts say that attacks are becoming ever more sophisticated.

"The level of Russian cyberattacks is growing compared to three or four years ago," said intelligence expert Andrei Soldatov.

"We know about the operations that have been uncovered but a lot still remains effective."

- Disinformation -

Russia has also been accused of carrying out large-scale disinformation campaigns in order to sway democratic processes in the West and fuel social discord online.

The country is believed to be operating online "troll factories" that concoct fake viral information in an attempt to influence internet users.

The accusations have been directed against both state media including RT (former Russia Today) and Kremlin allies such as Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman suspected of being at the origins of "troll factories" in Russia and Africa.

Washington has accused the ally of President Vladimir Putin of financing the Internet Research Agency, a Saint Petersburg-based company that sought to influence the US electorate in 2016.

- Denial -

Aware that the nature of cyberattacks makes their origins difficult to trace, the Kremlin has always denied any involvement and accused the West of waging a disinformation war on Russia.

Russia has also repeatedly pledged its desire to cooperate in the cyber sphere.

In the run-up to the 2020 US presidential elections, Putin proposed a pact of electoral non-interference and a global agreement against the misuse of communication technologies.

The proposal was left without response.

Soldatov said that Russia might be using hacking attacks to force the West to cooperate.

He did not rule out that, faced with the Russian threat and for want of a better alternative, "police in Europe and the United States might like to return to cooperating with Russia on cybersecurity".

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