What is Putin up to? Macron panic as France discovers devastating Russian hacking plot

Russian foreign minister issues warning to EU

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France’s cybersecurity agency ANSSI has announced “several French entities” had been breached by hackers and linked the attacks to a Russian hacking group. This group is believed to be behind some of the most devastating cyberattacks over recent years.

The latest “intrusion campaign” compromised the French software firm Centreon to install two pieces of malware into its clients’ networks.

It is believed the intrusion campaign started in 2017 and lasted until 2020.

ANSSI added it “mostly affected information technology providers, especially web hosting providers”.

In a statement, Centreon said it “has taken note of the information”.

It added it is “not proven at this stage that the identified vulnerability concerns a commercial version provided by Centreon over the period in question”.

The French Ministry of Justice is listed among Centreon’s clients.

However, it is unclear how many or which organisations were breached by the software hack, Politico reported.

The ANSSI said it “bears several similarities with previous campaigns attributed to the intrusion set named Sandworm”.

Sandworm is “known to lead consequent intrusion campaigns before focusing on specific targets that fits its strategic interests within the victims pool”.

The hacker group has been linked to the Russian military intelligence agency GRU by cybersecurity authorities and experts.

Sandworm is believed to be behind some of the most damaging cyberattacks in recent history.

Some of the main attacks include the outbreak of ransomware NotPetya in 2017 as well as the attacks on the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

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Sanctions were imposed on several officers of Russia’s intelligence unit by European diplomats who had linked to the Sandworm cyberattacks.

Traditionally, French authorities have been hesitant to attribute cyberattacks.

In December last year, a massive cyberattack which targetted the US’ nuclear arsenal was believed to be a direct attack by Russia.

The country’s National Nuclear Security Administration identified suspicious activity in the networks of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories in New Mexico and Washington, as well as the Office of Secure Transportation and the Richland Field Office of the Department of Energy.

Last year, the long-awaited report into Russia’s involvement in UK politics was finally released.

The report revealed Moscow did not interfere with Brexit but did meddle with the Scottish referendum in 2014.

Following suspicions Russia interfered with UK elections and referendums, an investigation by MPs and peers on the Investigation and Security Committee (ISC) was launched.

The ISC says it would be “difficult – if not impossible – to prove” allegations Russia tried to influence the Brexit vote from 2016.

But the report lashed out at the Government claiming it had failed to recognise the existence of a threat by the Kremlin.

The 50-page document said: “It is nonetheless the Committee’s view that the UK Intelligence Community should produce an analogous assessment of potential Russian interference in the EU referendum and that an unclassified summary of it be published.”

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