8th December 2023 – (London) In a joint statement, the United Kingdom and United States governments have accused Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) of engaging in a sustained cyber-espionage campaign against top politicians, journalists, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in both countries. The accusations come after a series of unsuccessful attempts to interfere in UK political processes, including the 2016 Brexit referendum.
The U.K.’s Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, condemned Russia’s actions, stating that “Russia’s attempts to interfere in UK politics are completely unacceptable and seek to threaten our democratic processes.” In response, the UK has summoned Russia’s ambassador to London and imposed sanctions on two Russian nationals accused of being involved in the hacking of computer networks in Britain, the United States, and other NATO countries.
The US Department of Justice has unsealed charges against the two Russian nationals, Ruslan Aleksandrovich Peretyatko and Andrei Stanislavovich Korinets, who are believed to be members of Centre 18, a unit within the FSB responsible for cyber espionage operations. The two men are accused of targeting current and former US officials at the Pentagon, State Department, Department of Energy facilities, and in the intelligence community from at least 2016 to 2022.
According to the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre, the FSB’s cyber-espionage campaign involved sending malicious links to specific targets in an attempt to induce them to share sensitive information. The attackers also undertook reconnaissance activity around their targets to make the attempts more effective.
The U.K. government has claimed that the FSB targeted parliamentarians from various political parties, with some attacks resulting in documents being leaked in an operation that has been ongoing since at least 2015. The organisation had also hacked U.K.-U.S. trade documents that were leaked ahead of the UK general election in December 2019.