(DCWatchdog.com) – As if to remind America that it remains one of its most dangerous foreign enemies, Putin’s Russia has carried out a vast campaign of “sophisticated” cyberattacks on the intelligence agencies of the United States as well as those of America’s NATO allies.
Russia-based hackers, according to allegations by the US Justice Department, executed a complex cyberattack against American intelligence officials.
This campaign, which spanned from 2016 to 2022, targeted not only US officials but also included NATO members and pro-Western Ukraine, the nation invaded by Putin’s Russia in February 2022.
The hackers focused on individuals affiliated with the State and Defense Departments, CBS News reports.
The perpetrators, identified as Ruslan Aleksandrovich Peretyatko, an officer in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the former KGB from the times of the Soviet Union, and co-defendant Andrey Stanislavovich Korinets, employed a spear phishing strategy.
This involved sending deceptive emails to trick victims, including US intelligence community members, defense contractors, and Energy Department employees, into divulging their login credentials.
The indictment against them, revealed in California, charges them with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse.
The scope of this Russian cyber campaign extended beyond the United States, targeting think tank researchers and journalists in the United Kingdom and other Western nations.
The Justice Department points the finger directly at the Russian government for these activities.
“Through this malign influence activity directed at the democratic processes of the United Kingdom, Russia again demonstrates its commitment to using weaponized campaigns of cyber espionage against such networks in unacceptable ways,” commented Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen.
Both Peretyatko and Korinets are currently on the FBI’s wanted list and believed to be in Russia.
A Justice Department official highlighted that the FSB unit, FSB 18, where Peretyatko works, is supposed to be a counterpart to the FBI’s cybersecurity division.
However, in this instance, it was used offensively, posing a significant threat. What distinguishes this operation is FSB 18’s collaboration with cybercriminals and its use of information to disrupt democratic processes in the UK.
Earlier on Thursday, the UK disclosed its detection of “malicious cyber activity attempting to interfere in UK politics and democratic processes.”
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of the UK’s intelligence and security agency, identified the hacking group as “Star Blizzard,” linked to the FSB.