Czech intelligence report warns of Russian and Chinese activity in the country

Pierluigi Paganini November 26, 2019

A Czech intelligence report states that Russian and Chinese cyberspies carried out several attacks against the country during 2018.

The Czech intelligence agency ‘Security Information Service (BIS)’ published a report on the activities related to 2018 that claims that Russian and Chinese cyberspies carried out several attacks against the country.

The agency claims that nation-state actors conducted cyber espionage campaigns and disinformation against the country.

In October, Czech police and intelligence services dismantled a Russian espionage network that was operating via its Prague embassy.

Cezch intelligence believes that agents of all the Russian intelligence services were secretly operating on the Czech soil in 2018.

The officials were helped by peers at the National Organised Crime Centre (NCOZ).

According to a report published by the NUKIB Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NUKIB) in September, China carried out a major cyber attack on a key government institution in the Czech Republic last year.

The report published by the NUKIB agency claims that the attack “was almost certainly carried out by a state actor or a related group,” and “a Chinese actor” is the main suspect.

In August 2019, a parliamentary committee in the Czech Republic revealed that the National Cyber and Information Security Agency blamed a foreign state for a cyber attack that targeted the Czech Foreign Ministry.

“The attackers tried to ensure permanent access to the affected system,” reads the report published by BIS.

The committee did not reveal the name of the state allegedly involved in the attack. A government source told Reuters that Czech authorities suspected the attacks originated from Russia. The Czech experts discovered the security breach in early January 2017.

Czech BIS also blamed a China-linked APT group for the malware attack on the foreign ministry’s non-classified network.

The Czech intelligence agency also claims that a malware attack on the private e-mail accounts of Czech soldiers was carried out by the Russia-linked cyberespionage group APT28.

“The intelligence services of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China carry out the most active and most aggressive activities,” states the report published by the BIS.

“Russian and Chinese intelligence activities affected the sectors of politics, diplomacy, espionage, economy and information struggle.”

Russia-linked threat actors attempted “to manipulate the decision-making process and individuals responsible for decision-making”, continues the report.

According to the BIS, China adopted a different strategy to spy on the country, it attempted to hire Czech citizens to involve in operations coordinated by a growing number of representatives of its intelligence in the country.

The BIS expressed great concern for Russian disinformation campaigns and propaganda, but pointed out that it had not detected any direct risks posed by terrorist and extremist organizations.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – BIS, Czech intelligence)

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