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27 Feb, 2019 23:29

‘Vast number of attacks staged from US soil’ – Kremlin about cyber op on Russia

‘Vast number of attacks staged from US soil’ – Kremlin about cyber op on Russia

Russia regularly faces a “vast number” of attacks staged by US hackers, the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said while questioning a recent report about an alleged US cyber assault on a St. Petersburg-based company.

“Various Russian entities … and individuals are constantly subjected to a vast number of cyber-attacks staged from the US soil,” Peskov told Russian journalists, answering a question about a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, which delved into one such assault reportedly staged by the US military against a Russian firm.

At the same time, the president’s spokesman casted a doubt on the report itself, which stated that the US Cyber Command successfully “shut down” what Washington calls a “Russian troll factory” behind the perceived interference into the US elections. The article is based almost entirely on unnamed sources and is thus difficult to verify, the spokesman noted. “One has to treat this data with caution,” he said.

The company in question is the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) – a firm, which Washington say allegedly has some links to the Kremlin and is supposedly responsible for almost every Western woe ranging from the perceived Russian meddling into the 2016 US presidential elections to “eroding public consensus on vaccinations,” which was partially responsible for a recent measles outbreak in Europe.

Some unnamed US officials quoted by the WSJ boasted that "they basically took the IRA offline” and “shut them down.” The US analysts, however, were less prone to praise the US military effort as they said that the operation was eventually “more annoying than deterring in the long run.” The operation, which required cooperation between the US Cyber Command and the notorious NSA intelligence agency, known for its insatiable appetite for mass surveillance, eventually resulted in the Russian company being deprived of internet access for a couple of days.

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Anyway, no one seems to have heard about it on the Russian side. Instead, Peskov said that Russian government websites, including the official page of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, “are permanently subjected to an enormous number of cyber-attacks … from Europe and North America.”

This is the reality we are living in.

The president’s spokesman also expressed his concern over the fact that the US might at some point go further and try and cut Russia off the world wide web as “the framework administration of … the internet is managed by de-facto just several companies.” He also said that Moscow is well aware of such threats and Russian lawmakers are now working on the so-called “sovereign internet bill.”

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The new legislation would allow Russia to create a special mechanism that would prevent any foreign power from depriving it of access to the World Wide Web. It would particularly require operators of the basic infrastructure of the internet to prepare for a possible switch to operating independently from other nations.

Earlier, similar concerns were voiced by Putin himself. “The more sovereignty we have, including in the digital sphere, the better,” he said at that time.

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