UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is concerned British politics and democracy might be the next target of Russian-sponsored cyberattacks. Although lacking strong evidence, GCHQ warned political parties in Britain to remain vigilant for a Russian threat to their democratic processes and general elections.
“This is not just about the network security of political parties’ own systems. Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond this and can include attacks on parliament, constituency offices, think tanks and pressure groups and individuals’ email accounts,” Ciaran Martin, chief executive of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said in a letter to politicians, according to the BBC.
US intelligence has concluded Russian President Putin ordered similar tactics to interfere with the US presidential elections in November so the Democrats would lose. German officials have also warned of “increasingly aggressive cyber-espionage,” writes the BBC.
For cyberespionage in the US and abroad, Russia allegedly used GameOver ZeuS between 2011 and 2014, a peer-to-peer botnet created by Evgeniy M. Bogachev, FBI’s most wanted cybercriminal, writes the New York Times. His close cooperation with Russian intelligence and lack of a criminal record on Russian territory ensure his safe stay in the country, giving Russia no reason to extradite him to the US.
In light of announced concerns, safeguarding British infrastructure from cybercriminals is “priority work.” In the past three to six months, the UK has dealt with 188 high-level hacks and blocked over 200 daily attacks, including on government departments.