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FBI Cracks Down on Russian Cyber Ops Collaboration with Cybercriminals

Espionage + Disinformation = Indictment
Emily Hill
Contributing Writer

Two Russian nationals, Ruslan Aleksandrovich Peretyatko and Andrey Stanislavovich Korinets, were indicted for their involvement in a hacking campaign targeting the U.S. government, military officials, and allies, including the UK, Ukraine, and NATO. The Federal Security Service (FSB) officers were accused of spearheading a sophisticated spear-phishing campaign, leading to unauthorized access to victims’ computers and email accounts.

The U.S. action followed a related announcement by the UK detailing an FSB campaign to undermine democratic institutions. Peretyatko and Korinets were also sanctioned, and a reward of up to $10 million was posted for information on their location. The group, labeled Callisto Group, engaged in offensive cyber activities, raising concerns about FSB’s collaboration with known cyber criminals.

Why it matters: The case brings attention to the intersection of cybercrime and state-sponsored activities for political objectives. The involvement of FSB officials in offensive cyber operations, coupled with collaboration with known cybercriminals, raises significant concerns about the potential weaponization of stolen information to disrupt democratic processes.

  • The tactics of the hackers included the use of fake login pages mimicking official accounts from Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, and Proton. The group targeted current and former employees of U.S. intelligence agencies, the Department of Defense, Department of State, defense contractors, and Department of Energy facilities.
  • The hybrid warfare tactics employed, combining cyber espionage with disinformation campaigns and collaboration with cybercriminals, showcase a multifaceted threat that governments, defense agencies, and organizations involved in international affairs must navigate in an interconnected world.
  • The legal action is a big move considering the difficulty of bringing the indicted individuals from Russia. While catching them directly might be tough, the indictment sends a clear message and acts as a tactic to mess with their plans. It shows a commitment to holding cybercriminals responsible, even if it means affecting their actions indirectly. In essence, it’s a practical effort to use legal means to deal with cyber threats.

Go Deeper –> US charges two Russians in hacks of government accounts – The Record

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