UK NCSC warns of cyber attacks powered by Russia against the political system

Pierluigi Paganini March 14, 2017

The UK National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) is warning of Russian political hacking capabilities, the risk of cyber attacks against the political system is high.

The alert was raised by the UK National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) that is informing political parties in the UK to warn about “the potential for hostile action against the UK political system.”

The warning doesn’t confirm that Russia is the most dangerous state for political hacking but the intelligence community has no doubts about cyber capabilities of Russians state-sponsored hackers.

In a separate context, the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson explained that there is no evidence of cyber attacks powered by Russian entities against the Brutish politicians and parties.

“We have no evidence the Russians are actually involved in trying to undermine our democratic processes at the moment. We don’t actually have that evidence. But what we do have is plenty of evidence that the Russians are capable of doing that.” Johnson declared on national television Sunday. Ha also referred the cyber attacks against the French TV TV4Monde and the diversionary strategy adopted by Russian hackers.

 “There is no doubt that they have been up to all sorts of dirty tricks – bringing down French TV stations; you have seen what happened in the United States where there is no question at all they were involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Convention.”

Last year, the US government accused Russia of cyberattacks against American political organizations, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) published a Joint Analysis Report(JAR) that includes information about the tools, infrastructure and TTPs used by the Russian civilian and military intelligence Services (RIS) against United States election.

U.S. Government linked the cyber activity to a Russian threat actor designated as GRIZZLY STEPPE.  It was the first time that the JAR attributes a malicious cyber activity to specific countries or threat actors.

The fear of possible attacks powered by Russian hackers is shared among multiple European Governments.

In January, French Defense Minister Le Drian expressed concerns about cyber attacks against defense systems and warns of hacking campaigns on the upcoming elections.

The Minister warned of possible cyber attacks like the ones that targeted the 2016 US Presidential Election.

In France, the conservative candidate Francois Fillon has been praised by Russian president Vladimir Putin due to its intention to intensify the relationship with the Kremlin. On the other side, the candidate Marine Le Pen is in total opposition to Russia, for this reason, the experts believe that hackers could target him and his party.

Relations between Russia and France are not good due to the position of President Hollande on the dispute between Russia and Ukraine in the 2014 Crimean Crysis.

President Hollande also blamed Russia for war crimes over its bombardment of the Syrian city of Aleppo.

The Minister is overseeing an overhaul of the cyber-security operations conducted by his Government.

In November 2016, the Gorman government expressed concerns about possible interference of Russian nation-state hackers with the 2017 German election.


The German politicians fear the Kremlin’s cyber capabilities. The alleged Russian interference in the US Presidential election is unleashing a domino effect and insinuating the fear in governments.

“I don’t have any concrete information about the origin of the attacks on the Telekom network,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday in Berlin. “Let me just say that such cyberattacks, or ‘hybrid attacks’ as they’re known in Russian doctrine, are part of everyday life today, and we need to learn to deal with them.”

The Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière expressed a great concern for explicitly blaming Moscow.

“It’s possible that we can’t clearly distinguish between criminal activities launched from a certain country and state activities,” Maizière declared at a conference of federal state interior ministers in Saarbrücken, when asked if Moscow was responsible for the attacks against the German routers.

The new president of German intelligence service (BND), Bruno Kahl, confirmed that foreign hackers can try to launch cyber attacks in the attempt to “delegitimize the democratic process” in the country.

“In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Bruno Kahl – the new president of German intelligence service, the BND – complained about hackers trying to “delegitimize the democratic process as such” and said he had “indications” that the hacks “came from certain quarters,” namely Russia. And the Telekom hack is by no means the only attack of its kind in Germany.” reported

Back to the warning issued by the GCHQ, in a letter sent to the British political parties, the NCSC chief executive Ciaran Martin invited to stay sharp on cyber attacks against their infrastructure in the attempt to subvert democratic processes in the country.

“You will be aware of the coverage of events in the United States, Germany and elsewhere reminding us of the potential for hostile action against the UK political system. This is not just about the network security of political parties’ own systems. Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond this and can include attacks on parliament, constituency offices, thinktanks and pressure groups and individuals’ email accounts.” Martin wrote in the letter.

“Protecting the UK’s political system from hostile cyber-activity is one of our operational priorities, so we have signposted parties to existing guidance and will deliver tailored seminars on cyber-security measures. The seminars will build on our existing advice and will provide an overview of threats, case studies on recent cyber-incidents, practical steps to reduce the risk and advice on incident management.”

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Russia, UK )

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