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15 Jan, 2017 18:57

Big surge in cyberattacks on Russia amid US hacking hysteria – Russian security chief

Big surge in cyberattacks on Russia amid US hacking hysteria – Russian security chief

While the US continues to publicly accuse Russia of numerous hacking attacks without providing any proof, it actually actively uses its own advantages in cyberspace for surveillance and intelligence purposes, Russia’s security chief has said.

“Obama’s administration accuses Russia of hacking attacks without giving any proof, but deliberately ignores the fact that all major internet servers are located on US territory and are used by Washington for intelligence and other purposes aimed at retaining [US] dominance in the world,” the head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, said in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily.

He also stressed that Moscow has seen “a growing number of attempts to inflict damage to Russian information systems from abroad.” These attempts include “hacking attacks and unsanctioned collection of personal data” and involve the use of global internet operators and providers, with the methods of these cyberattacks constantly “evolving.”

Patrushev went on to say that Russia is pursuing a goal of forming an international system based on common rules of responsible behavior in cyberspace that would be equally applicable to all states. He added that Russia is also constantly improving its system of countering cybersecurity threats.

Earlier, the Russian president’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said in an interview with NBC News that Russia is not accusing US authorities of attempts to break into its government servers, despite numerous hacking attacks on the Russian president’s administration website carried out from US territory.

Russian president’s official website “is subjected to hacking attacks hundreds and sometimes even thousands of times a day,” Peskov said, adding that “some hackers attack this site from US territory” while others do it “from China, India or European countries.”

“However, it does not lead to a situation when we say that we know [US President Barack] Obama ordered [this attack] and the White House is behind it,” he said, adding that such claims would be regarded as nonsense.

In November, NBC News reported that the US military managed to break into the Krmlin servers as well as into the commanding systems of some Russian energy supply and telecommunication systems and threatened to use its “cyber-weapon” against Russia in case of a major hacking attack against the US.

In response, Peskov said at that time that Moscow maintains a sufficient level of cybersecurity to combat any such threats.

The US has repeatedly accused Russia of hacking attacks and meddling with the US presidential elections last year. On January 6, the US intelligence community released the unclassified findings of its investigation into what it says was Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The report did not provide any hard evidence of Russian interference, relying instead on analyses from the CIA, FBI and NSA that drew on intelligence collected by the three agencies. The CIA and FBI have “high confidence” in the results of the report, while the NSA only has “moderate confidence.”

The conclusions presented in the paper were based on “the behavior of Kremlin-loyal political figures, state media, and pro-Kremlin social media actors, all of whom the Kremlin either directly uses to convey messages or who are answerable to the Kremlin.”

‘Obama took his domestic policy mistakes out on Russia'

The head of the Russian Security Council also slammed Obama for bring US-Russian relations to a historic low and damaging Russia’s relations with NATO and the EU in an attempt to draw public attention away from his own internal policy failures.

Patrushev told Rossiiskya Gazeta that he had an “impression that the US Democratic Party takes its own failures and mistakes out on Russia.” At the same time, he said that it is Obama administration’s domestic policy failures and not imaginary Russian influence that lead to Donald Trump’s election victory.

He also stressed that Barack Obama’s policy “brought the US-Russian relations back to square one” and contributed to the growing tensions between Russia, NATO and the EU. The US actions resulted in a more aggressive NATO policy, he added.

Patrushev particularly drew attention to the fact that NATO warships increased their Black Sea presence three times. Intensity of the NATO reconnaissance aviation flights near Russian borders has doubled while the number of fights of the NATO aircraft equipped with airborne early warning systems has grown nine times in the same area, he said.

He went on to say that the US continues to build up its missile defense shield in Europe by stationing ABM (anti-ballistic missile) systems in two Eastern European NATO countries – Romania and Poland – as well as in South Korea.

“Joint efforts of the West are particularly aimed at disruption of the integration processes involving Russia and discrediting of the idea of the ‘Russian space,’ thus threatening the security of Russia and a number of other states,” Patrushev said.

He also criticized Obama’s administration for its reluctance to effectively cooperate with Russia in Syria in fighting terrorist groups. “Unfortunately, Obama’s administration said more than it did in cooperation with us. It eventually reduced anti-terrorist cooperation [between the US and Russia] in Syria to nothing,” he said.

At the same time, he expressed his hope that Russia would be able to build more “constructive relations” with the new administration. “I believe that some opportunities for constructive cooperation with the US will emerge in the fields of fighting terrorism, information security and some other areas,” he said.