The cyberwar between the west and Russia has escalated after the UK and the US issued a joint alert accusing Moscow of mounting a "malicious" internet offensive that appeared to be aimed at espionage, stealing intellectual property and laying the foundation for an attack on infrastructure. Senior security officials in the US and UK held a rare joint conference call to directly blame the Kremlin for targeting government institutions, private sector organisations and infrastructure, and internet providers supporting these sectors. Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, set out a range of actions the US could take such as fresh sanctions and indictments as well as retaliating with its own cyber-offensive capabilities. "We are pushing back and we are pushing back hard," he said. Joyce stressed the offensive could not be linked to Friday's raid on Syria.
The Chinese government has been covertly monitoring communication between European government organizations and think tanks potentially for years, researchers claim. In a report released Wednesday (.PDF), researchers from Area 1 Security said that the ongoing campaign has "gained access into the diplomatic correspondence network of the European Union." Unusual behavior was first spotted in April 2015. The firm suspected a cyberattack was taking place against Intergovernmental Organizations, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Ministries of Finance, as well as trade unions and think tanks. After tracking the suspected campaign for some time, in November this year, Area 1 uncovered the successful infiltration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and therefore the COREU network, a key system which provides the backbone of communications between all 28 EU countries.
Facebook has removed hundreds of pages believed to be connected to the Kremlin-backed Sputnik news website for allegedly breaching its rules. The Facebook pages, which were targeted at individuals in former Soviet satellite states, either pretended to be independent news services or had names designed to appeal to fans of particular individuals, regions, or foods. "Despite their misrepresentations of their identities, we found that these pages and accounts were linked to employees of Sputnik, a news agency based in Moscow, and that some of the pages frequently posted about topics like anti-Nato sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption," said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of of cybersecurity policy. Sputnik is a sister service of RT, the television channel known as Russia Today. It has offices around the world, including in London and Edinburgh, and often runs punchy news stories with an anti-west message.