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20 Jun, 2023 11:18

Western spies using hackers to steal Russians’ data – regulator

Roskomnadzor claims demand for citizens’ personal information has grown since Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine
Western spies using hackers to steal Russians’ data – regulator

Western intelligence services are turning to hackers to obtain Russians’ personal data after being deprived of the chance to do so on social media, national media watchdog Roskomnadzor has claimed. 

Speaking to TASS at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), the deputy head of the regulator, Milos Wagner, said Western spies are “hacking and stealing sensitive information that is accumulated by Russian organizations” after social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were banned in the country. 

Wagner said that before Moscow launched its military campaign in Ukraine, hackers had been far less interested in Russians’ personal information. However, since February 2022, “every data operator and citizen of Russia” has become of interest, the official claimed. 

According to figures released by Roskomnadzor last week, there have been around 75 major data breaches and as many as 200 million leaks of personal records relating to Russian citizens since January 2023. Last year, some 600 million leaks were registered by the regulator. 

Wagner suggested that the reason hackers have been able to obtain so much data is because large organizations in Russia have relied for too long on foreign software and have insufficiently developed their own IT products. However, he noted that the number of hacks has fallen since Russian companies gained experience and took action. 

“Last year there were many more large-scale leaks. This can be seen in the example of May – last year 35 million records were disclosed, this May, 4 million records,” Wagner said. 

The Roskomnadzor deputy chief stated that the watchdog constantly monitors the web for the appearance of Russians’ personal data in public spaces, and limits access to such resources on the territory of Russia.  

Additionally, the organization issues demands to website owners to take down any hacked information, and sends letters through international channels to the relevant country’s authorities asking them to take action.  

Wagner also suggested that operators who have fallen victim to data breaches should inform their clients, and should offer compensation to anyone whose personal data may have been compromised. 

Earlier this month, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that the CIA had installed malware on thousands of Apple phones used by Russian citizens, as well as foreign diplomats working in the country.