Russian Cyber Unit ‘Centre 18’ Uncovered
The UK government has exposed ‘Centre 18,’ a clandestine cyber unit operating under Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), responsible for an extensive eight-year hacking campaign.
The unit, allegedly led by intelligence officer Ruslan Aleksandrovich Peretyatko and bodybuilder Andrey Stanislavovich Korinets, targeted private conversations of British MPs, civil servants, and public figures.
Sustained Interference in UK Politics
‘Centre 18’ engaged in sustained attempts to interfere in UK politics, compromising the private emails and conversations of high-profile politicians, ministers, officials, civil servants, NGOs, and journalists. The hacking campaign is expected to intensify as the UK approaches the upcoming polls.
Sanctions and a $10 Million Reward
In an unprecedented move, the Foreign Office has named and sanctioned Peretyatko and Korinets, who now face a $10 million reward from US officials for any information about them.
The duo is accused of leading the hacking group ‘Star Blizzard,’ which infiltrated the personal email account of former trade minister Liam Fox, stealing classified documents related to US-UK trade talks.
Wide-Ranging Targets and Allegations
The hacking group, also known as Cold River and the Callisto Group, targeted universities, journalists, the public sector, NGOs, and other Civil Society organizations crucial to UK democracy.
Allegations include the 2018 hack of the Institute for Statecraft and the recent compromise of its founder Christopher Donnelly’s account.
Historical Cyber Attacks and Political Infiltration
The ‘Star Blizzard’ group, affiliated with ‘Centre 18,’ targeted the Foreign Office in 2016 and reportedly breached the emails of former MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove in 2018.
The group’s actions extend beyond cyber espionage, with an attack on prominent Brexit supporters and the publication of private emails in an attempt to influence UK politics.
UK’s Diplomatic Response and Condemnation
The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office summoned the Russian Ambassador to express deep concern about ‘Centre 18’s’ activities.
Foreign Secretary David Cameron condemned Russia’s attempts to interfere in UK politics, emphasizing the exposure of malign activities and the commitment to work with allies in countering Russian covert cyber actions.
Government Officials’ Strong Statements
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden warned of ongoing threats from state actors and sub-state hackers, emphasizing the importance of a whole-of-society approach to defending against cyber threats.
Home Secretary James Cleverly and Foreign Office minister Leo Docherty reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to identifying and responding to malign cyber activity, holding Russia accountable through sanctions and diplomatic measures.
Shadow Foreign Secretary’s Response
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy described the revelations as an attack on British democracy, urging collective vigilance against foreign interference in political and democratic processes.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn