Britain accused Russian military intelligence on Thursday of directing a host of cyber attacks aimed at undermining Western democracies by sowing confusion in everything from sport to transport and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In a British assessment based on work by its National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Russian military intelligence (GRU) was cast as a pernicious cyber aggressor which used a network of hackers to spread discord across the world.
GRU, Britain said, was almost certainly behind the BadRabbit and World Anti-Doping Agency attacks of 2017, the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2016 and the theft of emails from a UK-based TV station in 2015.
“The GRU’s actions are reckless and indiscriminate: they try to undermine and interfere in elections in other countries,” said British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
“Our message is clear – together with our allies, we will expose and respond to the GRU’s attempts to undermine international stability,” Hunt said. Britain believes the Russian government is responsible for the attacks.
Though less well known than the Soviet Union’s once mighty KGB, Russia’s military intelligence service played a major role in some of the biggest events of the past century, from the Cuban missile crisis to the annexation of Crimea.
RUSSIAN CYBER POWER?
Though commonly known by the acronym GRU, which stands for the Main Intelligence Directorate, its name was formally changed in 2010 to the Main Directorate of the General Staff (or just GU). Its old acronym – GRU – is still more widely used.
It has agents across the globe and answers directly to the chief of the general staff and the Russian defense minister. The GRU does not comment publicly on its actions. Its structure, staff numbers and financing are Russian state secrets.
The GRU traces its history back to the times of Ivan the Terrible, though it was founded as the Registration Directorate in 1918 after the Bolshevik Revolution. Vladimir Lenin insisted on its independence from other secret services.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said GRU officers used a nerve agent to try to kill former double agent Sergei Skripal, who was found unconscious in the English city of Salisbury in March. Russia has repeatedly denied the charges.
After the Skripal poisoning, the West agreed with Britain’s assessment that Russian military intelligence was to blame and launched the biggest expulsion of Russian spies working under diplomatic cover since the height of the Cold War.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB spy, said on Wednesday that Skripal, a GRU officer who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service, was a “scumbag” who had betrayed Russia.
Britain said the GRU was associated with a host of hackers including APT 28, Fancy Bear, Sofacy, Pawnstorm, Sednit, CyberCaliphate, Cyber Berkut, Voodoo Bear and BlackEnergy Actors.
“This pattern of behavior demonstrates their desire to operate without regard to international law or established norms and to do so with a feeling of impunity and without consequences,” Foreign Secretary Hunt said.
The United States sanctioned GRU officers including its chief, Igor Korobov, in 2016 and 2018 for attempted interference in the 2016 U.S. election and cyber attacks.
Australia and New Zealand backed the United Kingdom’s findings on the GRU.
“Cyberspace is not the Wild West. The International Community – including Russia – has agreed that international law and norms of responsible state behavior apply in cyberspace,” Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“By embarking on a pattern of malicious cyber behavior, Russia has shown a total disregard for the agreements it helped to negotiate,” Morrison said.
Time Magazine Names Jamal Khashoggi, Other Journalists As “Person Of The Year”
This year’s time magazine “Person Of The Year” has been bestowed on a group of journalists that includes murdered Saudi writer, Jamal Khashoggi and two Reuters reporters imprisoned by Myanmar’s government. The magazine says it named the group of journalists as “person of the year” because the idea of truth as critical to democracy is under assault.
Also honored is the founder of a Philippines news website that has been vocal in criticizing that country’s authoritarian government. A Maryland, USA, newspaper is also among the honored.
This is the first time in its ninety-five year history that time magazine has honored people in its own profession.
The annual distinction is intended to recognize the person, group or idea that had the greatest influence on world events that year. It has been given to a wide range of influencers, from u.s. Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. And Queen Elizabeth to Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, who was honored before the start of world war two.
Syrian Government Using Anti-terrorism Law To Seize Properties From Dissidents
Rights groups and some of the affected Syrian people say the government has been using a little-known anti-terrorism law to seize property from dissidents and their families as it takes back control of areas that were held by rebel groups.
Now that Syria’s conflict has stabilized, and president Bashar al-Assad again controls the biggest cities, it is left to be seen how he will handle the areas where the 2011 uprising against him flared.
International attention has focused on policies, such as legislation known as law 10, that could eventually enable the government to dispossess people in the opposition strongholds worst damaged in the war.
But human rights groups say, while law 10 has not yet been put into effect, the separate anti-terrorism law has already been used to seize property, including from people who had no hand in violence.
Theresa May Faces Confidence Vote
British prime minister, Theresa May faces a confidence vote in her leadership by MPs in her own conservative party, after chaos began to roil her European union exit deal.
So much now plagues the deal that has opened up the prospect of a messy no-deal Brexit or a referendum that could reverse Brexit. Britain is due to exit on March the twenty-ninth next year.
Graham Brady, the chairman of the party’s so-called 1922 committee, said the threshold of 15 percent of the parliamentary conservative party seeking a confidence vote had been reached. A vote will be taken at the house of Commons later this evening.
May could lose her position as prime minister if a hundred fifty-eight of her three hundred fifteen MPs vote against her, but a mutiny could also help sustain her through the crisis.
- 19 Year Old Defeats Oshonaike At National Sports Festival December 12, 2018
- Time Magazine Names Jamal Khashoggi, Other Journalists As “Person Of The Year” December 12, 2018
- Syrian Government Using Anti-terrorism Law To Seize Properties From Dissidents December 12, 2018
- Theresa May Faces Confidence Vote December 12, 2018
- Huawei CFO, Meng Wanzhou Released On Bail December 12, 2018
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