back to article UK pins 'reckless campaign of cyber attacks' on Russian military intelligence

The UK government this morning pointed the finger at Russian military intelligence for a litany of cyber nasties. In the bulletin, the UK government's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) declared that a range of attacks blamed on the Kremlin are actually the work of Russian military intelligence, GRU. This comes in the wake …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "international norms in cyberspace" — hilarious.

    1. GnuTzu
      Stop

      The Dance

      Still waiting for it to get bad enough to result in physical war. Got Nukes?

      Yet, there will clearly have to be sanctions first.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Dance

        Is this one of those irregular verbs? You recklessly hack, I lawfully intercept?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Dance

        Is it any better than Theresa May's Masochism Tango ?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHID8hMgWKc

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      from the Register today

      "Whose line of attack is it anyway? Cyber-assault whodunnits harder than ever to solve

      Sophisticated groups not always so easy to pick out"

      such a true headline/article yet we get the exact opposite "UK pins 'reckless campaign of cyber attacks' on Russian military intelligence"

      now "pins" gets a bit wooly as it became "almost certainly" when reported by BBC home service today, every twenty minutes, all fugging day long

      sort of "squirrel" shouting, again.... now whataabout SUPERMICRO's reboot of the NSA's https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/60/NSA_TRINITY.jpg ANT bug?

  2. }{amis}{
    FAIL

    Every one spies

    The problem with the current kerfuffle with the Russian intelligence agencies isn't that they are spying everybody does that, its the getting publically caught with their pants down.

    If the Skripal's had died in an apparently botched mugging nobody would have done a thing its just business as usual in the world of cloak and daggers it's the deliberate and blatant attempts to scare anybody who has ever P!$$£d off the Russian government.

    That this tactic has backfired on the Russians seems to be confusing people who are playing the game in 2018 by 1980's rules.

    1. James 51
      Big Brother

      Re: Every one spies

      It's bread and circuses. Now that they're running out of bread, time for a bigger circus.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Every one spies

      It sounds more like that the use of chemical weapons crossed the "we can ignore this" line, because it sounds like the GRU has been very, very busy for a long time.

      https://www.buzzfeed.com/heidiblake/poison-in-the-system

      The interesting thing is that article reads like Buzzfeed was given shedloads of information by a US intelligence agency specifically to get it into the public domain so that the British government couldn't continue to ignore this sort of thing. And note the date of that article, it's a year before the Salisbury Novichok poisoning.

    3. Aladdin Sane

      Re: Every one spies

      If the Skripals had died in a botched mugging then it wouldn't've sent a message to other defectors/would be defectors.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Every one spies

        If the Skripals had died in a botched mugging then it wouldn't've sent a message to other defectors/would be defectors.

        2 Apostrophies , i like it! Its the only way to be sure ...

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Every one spies

        If the Skripals had died in a botched mugging then it wouldn't've sent a message to other defectors/would be defectors.

        Could have been less circumspect if they tried. I suspect their are ways to dispose as sort of of an accident, but leave signs ex-agents would recognise.

        It's really made Russias 'legitimate businessman' facade less swallowable. We all know most goverments play switchblade footsie under the diplomacy table, but the likes of the poisoning was a dick 'Sonny Corleone' move.

      3. DropBear
        Joke

        Re: Every one spies

        "If the Skripals had died in a botched mugging"

        Wait, I have seen that movie! What was it... "Spirit"...? "Spectre"...? "Phantom"...?

    4. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Every one spies

      The problem with the current kerfuffle with the Russian intelligence agencies isn't that they are spying everybody does that, its the getting publically caught with their pants down.

      It's more about the publicity. We employ intelligence and counterintelligence officers to spy and catch spies. Such is the great game that's been played ever since someone started wondering what they were up to in that cave over there. Often it's played more discretely. So Russia spies. How very dare they! It's not something civilised societies would ever contemplate!

      Or the agencies involved in not-spying would probably prefer politicians wound their necks back in. So the strange case of the Skirpals. We have pics of two ordinary Russian citizens entering the UK on tourist visas to do a spot of cathedral spotting and door painting. Or we have a visa issued to a senior GRU officer and hero of Russia being issued under a false identity and being allowed to enter the UK unsupervised.

      Mistakes happen I guess. More funding is required to prevent future mistakes.

      But such is politics. Buy US gas, not Russian!

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Every one spies

        So everyone is doing it, spying on everyone else? We can agree on that but of course there was no evil intent in supporting, promoting and financing BREXIT - that was never influenced by any outside influence was it?

        I'm getting my coat and leaving (in a non BREXIT way) ... oh wait, what's that in the pocket? A little chip made by a Chinese company? I'm sure it's harmless too...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Every one spies

        "Mistakes" - that's a nice euphemism.

        Good job it wasn't Jihadi John.

        1. Mark 110

          Re: Every one spies

          "But such is politics. Buy US gas, not Russian!"

          Yeah cos Donald Trump is the ultimate representation of good in the world . . . The US hasn't started more wars since world war II than any other nation . . . And the only war the Russians have started outside of their territory (bar border altercations like the Ukraine thing) they miserably lost to the Afghanis, because of American interference vis Osama . . . Then the Americans broke all their promises to Osama and 9/11 happened.

          The Americans are great!!!!!

          I give up :-(

          (P.s.: I love getting down voted for a controversial post, but not sure which way this ones gonna go. Find out tomorrow.)

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Every one spies

            "But such is politics. Buy US gas, not Russian!"

            Yeah cos Donald Trump is the ultimate representation of good in the world . . . The US hasn't started more wars since world war II than any other nation . .

            So far, Trump's only really started trade wars. But give him time. The rest is simply business. So the EU overtook the US as the world's largest economy. Obviously that's a competitive challenge, especially as the EU federalises and exerts more influence internationally. One way to curb expansion is to create division. Worked with the USSR, works for the EU. So the EU had been steadily growing it's trade with Russia. With a bit of Russophobia and some sanctions, that's been slowed or stopped, costing the EU billions.

            Oil's been part of that. EU buys a lot of gas from Russia. US develops it's own production, boosting it's economy and generating a surplus. But the US is isolated. Canada doesn't need it. S.America has (had) it's own. Who's going to buy LNG from East Coast US, especially when there aren't many LNG terminals in the EU. So Germany says it'll buy some. Where will it land it, and why would it pay far more than it'd cost from existing pipeline deliveries? Junker flew to Washington and said the EU would buy more. That's nice. How many gas turbines do the EU buildings in Brussels have?

            And that's just one commodity. Agriculture's also part of the challenge. Especially as Trump's trade wars have meant China's not buying. Russia's wheat production's overtaken the US. The EU welcomed Ukraine into the fold with it's rich agricultural land. Ok, so Ukraine got screwed by the EU's agricultural quotas, but it's all part of geopolitics and balance of trade wars.

    5. macjules Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Every one spies

      Not sure that is right. What we do "know" is that the Skripals were exchanged by direct order of Putin, in the trade for Anna Chapman et al (aka the Illegals Program). It seems highly unlikely therefore that Putin would then authorise anyone to kill Skripal, but it is conceivable that the GRU might try to kill Skripal to spite Putin in some way.

      Either way, I don't think we should be worrying about a certain pair of GRU colonels for very long. I am sure they are about to find out how interesting it can be to count pine trees in Siberia.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Every one spies

        You don't think Putin would trade the Skripals, then order them murdered in the most publicly attributable way possible, just pour encourager les autres? Somehow I can easily see him doing exactly that.

        I'm sure the GRU agents will be fine, they'll just have to keep a low profile for a while. Maybe they've been shuffled to desk jobs, or maybe they're even now recovering from plastic surgery. You don't pack trained assassins off to Siberia just for getting made one time, they're too valuable a resource.

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Every one spies

          FSB/KGB hated GRU with a passion as I recall from the 1980’s

          1. Julz Silver badge

            Re: Every one spies

            In the 80's the KGB/FSB thought the GRU were reckless and out of control. It would seem they might have been correct.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Every one spies

            Re:"FSB/KGB hated GRU with a passion as I recall from the 1980’s"

            Maybe, but that was 30-40 years ago.

            A lot has changed since then.

    6. Cucumber C Face
      Unhappy

      Collateral damage

      Russia use "deliberate and blatant attempts to scare anybody who has ever P!$$£d off the Russian government...playing the game in 2018 by 1980's rules."

      Right, nerve agents and strangulations are so passe. The USA and UK use drones to kill their dissident citizens as well as foreign nationals in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      Not saying either side is right. Only considering that objectively the New World Order is way ahead on civilian casualties (and $ trillions flushed into arms dealers' pockets).

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_from_U.S._drone_strikes

  3. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    APT28

    Were they not declared to be North Korean yesterday?

    I'll take a bet on Chinese tomorrow and Iranian on Saturday ...

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: APT28

      Nope, got that wrong. It was APT38 ... not sure whether that's more or less malicious than 28.

      Wonder whether the presence of any such fingers in the hacking pie is provable, likely, possible or just 'politically convenient' because the Daily Fail will print it in big letters and any state denials can be swept away without argument ...

  4. Dr. G. Freeman

    It wasn't Gru,

    he outsourced it to bunch of little yellow guys.

    Which is Despicable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Dont give up your day job. Please dont forget your coat...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've no sympathy with the Putin dictatorship

    But having said that, maliciously interfering with other countries IT is surely less bad than persistent foreign wars that kill hundreds of thousands?

    I'm not harbouring any illusions about the military actions that the Russians can be blamed for, nor disputing their cyber-ops meddling, but the holier than thou messaging of (in particular) our government is inappropriate given their major contribution to starting the Iraq war, which in turn extended itself into Syria (in part courtesy of a an "Arab spring" fuelled by our country's enthusiasm to intervene in Libya).

    1. Aladdin Sane

      Re: I've no sympathy with the Putin dictatorship

      So invading and occupying The Crimea is okay with you then?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I've no sympathy with the Putin dictatorship

        So invading and occupying The Crimea is okay with you then?

        Actually, I'm rather indifferent to it for historical reasons, but as per my comment "I'm not harbouring any illusions about the military actions that the Russians can be blamed for", I don't doubt their brutality, their intent, their responsibility for MH17, and their breach of various treaties and international laws. However, with the highest estimate I've seen been around 11,000 deaths, it rather palls into insignificance to the many hundreds of thousands killed in Western hobby wars (probably over 1m now).

        My point, that you seem to be missing, is that the US and UK (plus a few lesser actors) are far ahead of the Russians when it comes to responsibility for international war, death, civilian suffering, discord and chaos over the past thirty years. Look at the mad, lawless shithole that Libya became after the West toppled Gaddafi (evil shit that he was). Look at the chaos and death in Syria, largely attributable to the West pouring money and weapons in to the opposition groups (then being mortally surprised when IS turned out to be the beneficiary. Look at Afghanistan - there was a moderately sound motive to intervene, but two decades later the intervention has failed, the Taliban are resurgent and the country is still another lawless, unstable, poverty stricken dump. Take Iraq, invaded because Tony Blair wouldn't listen to the UN WMD inspection team, and preferred to make up his own evidence. Even in Yemen, the West may not be conducting the war, but it is supplying the weapons and turning a blind eye to Saudi recklessness.

        Now, are you saying that Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria are OK with you, because the Ruskies invaded a bit of Ukraine? There's evil, and it comes in degrees. Judged by three decades of outcomes, I am ashamed to have to say the West are not in any position to lecture the Russians.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: I've no sympathy with the Putin dictatorship

          "Now, are you saying that Afghanistan",

          I don't know if you remember, but the Russians also invaded Afghanistan. Best guess? Around 1m killed, mainly civilians. By the Russians. None of this 'killed by other people, but the US invaded first, so everything after that is their fault' indirect responsibility muck.

          "Iraq"

          The US invasion of Iraq killed around 50,000, almost all Iraqi military. Afterwards lots of Iraqis killed other Iraqs, for which the US is indirectly, but not directly responsible. If you blame those of the US, then you can blame all of the Afghan deaths on the Russians for their botched invasion in 79-89 that brought the Taliban in the first place.

          "Libya",

          Yeah, OK, that was badly done. I mean, Gaddafi wasn't exactly man of the year, so it's a different collection of people who are dead than would be if he were alive, but sure.

          "Syria"

          I think you'll find that the West more or less hasn't interfered there. You know who is mostly responsible for the bast amount of death and destruction? Oh yeah, Russia.

          A few you have forgotten: Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine.

          The conclusion: the West hasn't been great at military intervention, mainly because they don't have a long-term plan in place for how to deal with the local population's bloodthirsty ways after the invasion, and a naiveté about democracy being a natural and inevitable form of government. Russia's methodology is that not only do they not care about the afterwards, primarily because they attack countries to annex them, but they don't mind a bit of the ultra-violence against civilians during the campaigns either.

          1. Nick Kew

            Re: I've no sympathy with the Putin dictatorship

            @DavCrav

            On the subject of Afghanistan, I recommend reading "Caravans", by John Michener. Set in Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of WW2.

            Published in the early 1960s, so no question of hindsight about the Soviet invasion or what's happened since. But still seems to anticipate a lot of it.

            The word "Taliban" isn't used, but their presence and influence is strong and clear. Though at that time, they hadn't been armed and internationalised.

            Educated Western-facing Afghans feature peripherally, and have an interesting message for the protagonist (who is a junior US diplomat): these [taliban] are a problem that must be sorted. Please come and sort them, because if you don't then the Soviets will.

            Interesting background to what subsequently happened. The only thing he really failed to anticipate is that when the Soviets went in, the West would respond by weaponising the real loonies.

        2. strum

          Re: I've no sympathy with the Putin dictatorship

          >many hundreds of thousands killed in Western hobby wars (probably over 1m now).

          I will join you in criticising Western involvement in Iraq/Afghanistan - but it's worth remembering that vast majority of casualties were Iraqi-on-Iraqi or Afghan-on-Afghan (with occasional help from foreign jihadis).

          It always makes a better headline, if you can ramp up the numbers. But headlines aren't reality.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I've no sympathy with the Putin dictatorship

        given the number of victims, the invasion of Crimea was clean (never mind those several dozen who disappear, we're so sorry!). Now, the liberation of Iraq from the clutches of the evil dictator... Which makes me think: perhaps the US should have invaded Crimea rather than liberate Iraq? But then, those WMD, yes... quite a poser...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Invading Crimea?

        Crimea has been Russian for centuries.

        The Soviet leader Kruschev handed Crimea to the Ukrainians but the ethnic Russian population stayed there. Crimea was the second largest naval base for the Soviets, then for Russia. The Russians did not invade Crimea, they’ve always been there.

        In 2014 the Ukrainian fascists kicked off and started to wreak havoc, Crimea amongst other ethnic Russian regions was in their sights, so the ethnic Russians decided enough was enough, had a referendum observed by international organisations, and they asked to re-join Russia.

        People should read beyond the Daily Torygraph, The Guardian Of The Establishment, British Biased Corporation, Clinton News Network, etc.

        By the way, just from a common sense PoV, don’t forget that we had a war over a little island housing a few sheep herders thousands of miles away in the South Atlantic. How we can acuse Russia of not having any interest in their huge naval base and 90% of the residents of Crimea is utterly ludicrous and hypocritical.

        1. Nick Kew

          Re: Invading Crimea?

          Crimea has been Russian for centuries.

          And voted 97% to become Russian (again) in the 2014 referendum. That was of course after the second time their elected president in Kiev had been ousted at the instigation of the West, and with the experience of the country having been a total basketcase under the previous western-facing government.

          Perhaps we should also recollect that Kiev was historic Russian capital before either Moscow or St Petersburg. There's a lot of history to this.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: I've no sympathy with the Putin dictatorship

      "But having said that, maliciously interfering with other countries IT is surely less bad than persistent foreign wars that kill hundreds of thousands?"

      Haven't you noticed that they have been doing both?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FUD

    I'm sorry, I'm just a meek Kremlin troll, here's a proof: I have doubts about any claims which have NO chance of independent, impartial verification. And, on top of having doubts, which is a hallmark of Kremlin trolls (spreading FUD and questioning all those reliable sources of information like BBC and gov.co.uk) here's another absolute proof for trolling:

    I dare to claim there's no better way to pacify unease and confusion among the population and make people flock to their masters and stop questioning (how the brexit's doing?! oh, never mind that, the Russians are comin!) - nothing better to de-focus their minds than WAR! TERROR! THREAT! RUSSKI ENEMIES AT THE GATES!

    After all, it works for us in Russia too, as we're getting older, sicker and that our greatest assets of gas and oil is still damn cheap and kindof nobody in the world likes us. So: WAR! TERROR! THREAT! WESTERN POWERS PLOTTING TO TAKE OVER OUR MOTHERLAND! ENEMIES AT THE GATES!!!

    p.s. and yes, we DO send spies to the UK, we always have. Unlike the UK, which never sends spies abroad, nosir. Another proof of Kremlin trolling: trying to demonstrate that everybody's the same, to make you stop believing your own leadership. So: Russians are COMING!!!!

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: FUD

      Does the UK spy on other countries? Yes. Indeed, the Foreign Secretary said that. What he said was that Russia is attacking targets that are not acceptable. unless you think setting the GRU on WADA is acceptable? It's not spying on military installations, they were unleashing chemical weapons on foreign soil against civilians. And if you had any doubt about that, I think the farcical Russia Today interview where the accused just really wanted to see the cathedral and other fantastic sights of Salisbury, and came equipped with all the facts Wikipedia has to offer about it, should have convinced anybody who isn't actually unhinged.

    2. Skwosh

      Re: FUD

      Well done all you anonymous Russian trolls (imaginary or otherwise)!

      Whataboutism of the highest order.

      You almost completely distracted me from the specific allegations here and I was even beginning to think 'Oh man – it's just so hard to decide who is right and who is wrong about anything these days, we're just as evil as everyone else and it's so difficult to decide what's true and what isn't and, you know, I think what we really need is some sort of nice clever grownup strong-man, a bit like our dad or Father Christmas or Jesus or something, who understands all this complicated stuff and can keep us safe and we can always trust him to do the right thing and then we can all get on with our ordinary unimportant prole-lives and let him get on with the important stuff like wars and, also, I guess it would be even better if that guy could stay in power indefinitely too because actually there are some decisions that are just too important to be left to the ordinary people really and...' – but then I snapped out of it.

      I imagine, though, that if I am repeatedly exposed to such nuanced and cynical commentary I will eventually succumb, so I guess my advice is keep it up lads and lasses!

      Somewhat more on topic though, it appears someone used internationally prohibited chemical weapons recently in a British provincial town as part of a botched assassination and then just threw the bottle away so that it could be (and was) found by some random members of the public.

      Should we just go 'Oh – OK then – we're so bad and so horrid because of Iraq and Libya and whatever that we'll just not say anything about this'?

      Pray tell, oh anonymous ones, how long (decades?) do we have to wait over here for our evil-points to dissipate enough for us to be allowed to say to the Russian leadership (assuming of course that the left hand even knew what the right hand was doing) that we think the chemical weapons endangering civilians thing is kind of crossing a line?

  7. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Draining the Swamp requires Accurate Targeting

    The document, speaking for intelligence chiefs in the UK and its closest allies

    Now there's an oxymoronic comic if ever there was one .. for the blind leading the blind down a dark alley to nowhere worth travelling.

    And whenever you can't really believe anything politicians and intelligence services tell you because they are economical rather than fulsome with the truth, are their leaders the enemy within to be appropriately dealt with ........ https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/04/mi5-sought-immunity-for-agents-criminal-acts-tribunal-told

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old News

    The incidents that are being complained about happened six months ago, yet they are being presented as something new and urgent.

    There appears to be a certain concerted directed malevolence behind this, but it appears to be coming from closer to home - i.e. certain tame News outlets turning up the Hysteria to Eleven once the party conference season is over and there would then otherwise be nothing to take our minds off of the impending Brexit and the hash that certain people are making of it.

    Even the Guardian newspaper is at it - it looks like the Chainsaw used on their HDD was then also applied to the Editor's head.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Attack of the cybercommies

    "This comes in the wake of long-standing concerns that Russia was breaking international norms in cyberspace"

    The five-eyes have the largest spying apparatus on the planet and expend most effort in spying on their own people. Yea I know the NSA doesn't spy on americans, it outsources that to GCHQ. And yet we're supposed to be worried about Kremlin hackers. How did NCSC come by this information. Did the head of GRU give an interview to Russia today. I don't think so. I would assume the FSB is a little more efficient at keeping secrets. Do you think these commie hacker stories are designed to distract from this:

    ‘Five Eyes’ Nations Quietly Demand Government Access to Encrypted Data

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I spy....

    ....why do I get the feeling this is all just a big excuse to get more power for our own cyber crim^H^H^H^H guardians, more funding for cameras in our bedroooms and backdoors in our phones.

    How did the Russian Cyber Army get so powerful, did we look away for 10 mins, or is this just some big distractaction so we don't notice our own upstanding, high integrity cyber kiddies poking around the rubbish bin of our own democratic process, if the Ruskies are hiding under our beds, influencing our democracy where are our own shadowy manipulators hanging out, inside out political parties, news/media outlets orspouting bollocks in the local boozer?

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