Jeremy Hunt hits out at Russia over ‘reckless’ cyber-attacks
Jeremy Hunt has accused Russian military intelligence of orchestrating a series of devastating cyber-attacks ordered by the Kremlin.
The Foreign Secretary identified six “reckless and indiscriminate” strikes which he argued were not in the interests of Russian national security.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) pointed blame for the attacks at Russia's GRU military intelligence firm – the same organisation said to be behind the Novichok nerve agent incident in Salisbury.
A joint investigation between the NCSC and other Western cyber-intelligence services found that 12 cyber actors involved in six high-level attacks on the west were "fronts" working for the GRU.
One of them was the hacking of Hilary Clinton’s email server during the 2016 US presidential race, while another targeted a small but functioning British TV station.
In a statement, the Foreign Office said the group was working in secret to “undermine international law and international institutions”.
It added: “These attacks have been conducted in flagrant violation of international law, have affected citizens in a large number of countries, including Russia, and have cost national economies millions of pounds.”
The investigation also fingered the Russian state for its involvement in a ransomware attack that crippled the Ukranian metro system, as well as hacking the confidential medical records of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which was leading an investigation into claims of Russian doping in sport.
Mr Hunt said: "These cyber-attacks serve no legitimate national security interest, instead impacting the ability of people around the world to go about their daily lives free from interference, and even their ability to enjoy sport.
"The GRU’s actions are reckless and indiscriminate: they try to undermine and interfere in elections in other countries; they are even prepared to damage Russian companies and Russian citizens."
He went on: “This pattern of behaviour demonstrates their desire to operate without regard to international law or established norms and to do so with a feeling of impunity and without consequences."
It comes just weeks after Theresa May vowed to degrade the capabilities of the GRU after it was blamed for the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury earlier this year.