Russia’s FSB Agents Exposed by UK as Masterminds of Political Hacking Scheme

The Russian government’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has been confirmed as responsible for a hacking campaign that targeted politicians, civil servants, journalists, and civil society organizations. The campaign, conducted by a group known as Star Blizzard or Seaborgium, aimed to obtain information to interfere with UK politics and the democratic process. The group has targeted politicians from multiple political parties since 2015 and was responsible for leaking UK-US trade documents before the 2019 general election. The UK government, led by Foreign Secretary David Cameron, stated that Russia’s attempts to interfere in UK politics are completely unacceptable. As a result, Russia’s ambassador has been summoned and financial sanctions have been imposed on two Russians, including an FSB agent. The US State Department is also offering a reward for information on members of the hacking group. Last year, Computer Weekly identified the hacking group as an FSB operation and today, the UK’s National Cybersecurity Centre confirmed that Star Blizzard conducted cyber-attacks under the direction of the FSB’s Unit 18, which specializes in cyber espionage. The group selectively chooses its targets and conducts extensive research and preparation, using false identities and malicious links to gain access to personal email accounts. Previous victims of the hacking group’s attacks include the former head of MI6 and a network of hard Brexit campaigners. The government has placed two Russian nationals on the financial sanctions list for their involvement in the hacking operation. In response to the extensive analysis conducted by the UK intelligence community, the government is providing enhanced security to MPs and other public-facing figures targeted by the group. The National Cyber Security has issued an advisory notice on the techniques used by the hacking group and countermeasures.

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