UK accuses Russia of ‘cyber interference’ to target politicians, journalists

The FSB state security service is accused of releasing sensitive documents

UK alleges Russia of cyber hacking British Foreign Secretary David Cameron takes part in a photo-op with U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson ahead of a meeting between the two at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington | Reuters

United Kingdom has alleged that Russian spies have been targeting British politicians, journalists with hacking since 2015. Leo Docherty, a Foreign office minister, told the House of Commons that Russian federal agency, FSB, was using “cyber interference” to target politicians and other high-profile people.

Citing examples, UK has said that a Russian group was behind the 2018 hacking on the Institute for Statecraft. The Russian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office on Thursday in the wake of the recent developments and to inform on the imposed sanctions.

UK has sanctioned two individuals in connection with the allegations.

Docherty also added that a group called Centre18, a unit within FSB, has been involved in cyber-espionage and a subordinate group called Star Blizzard was involved in the hacking activity targeting “British parliamentarians from multiple parties”, reported The Guardian.

He said the group has "selectively leaked...sensitive information in service of Russia's goals of confrontation."

Amid the allegations, UK’s foreign secretary David Cameron is in Washington on Thursday. Reacting to the allegations, Cameron said that Russia’s interference on UK politics is “unacceptable”. He also added that by summoning Russian ambassador, the “malign attempts” of Russia will be exposed.

“We will continue to work together with our allies to expose Russian covert cyber activity and hold Russia to account for its actions,” said Cameron.

“In sanctioning those responsible and summoning the Russian ambassador today, we are exposing their malign attempts at influence and shining a light on yet another example of how Russia chooses to operate on the global stage,” he added.

Russia, however, has denied claims it is involved in such activities.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) is the successor agency to the KGB, which operated throughout the Cold War.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was director of the FSB for a period in the 1990s.

It is believed that the group is still active and US is also expected to announce action against the group.

MPs have previously complained that they were being targeted by hackers. Dominic Raab, the former foreign secretary, previously said Russia was involved in the leak of documents related to UK-US trade.

Docherty has said that “specific action” has been taken to improve preventive measures against cyber attacks.

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