Russian hackers 'targeted Britain's energy companies and vital industries'

25 March 2022, 06:07

Russian hackers targeted global infrastructure in a nearly decade-long campaign
Russian hackers targeted global infrastructure in a nearly decade-long campaign. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Russian spies have been accused of targeting vital UK infrastructure, including energy companies, in a "calculated and dangerous" hacking campaign.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Britain's cyber security experts are "almost certain" that Moscow’s Federal Security Service [FSB], the successor to the Soviet KGB, is behind the "historic" effort.

The Foreign Office called it a "global campaign targeting critical national infrastructure".

It is thought the project took place over nearly a decade and also targeted engineering and industrial sectors.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: "Russia's targeting of critical national infrastructure is calculated and dangerous.

Read more: Biden: 'United' Nato would 'respond in kind' to Russia as chemical attack fears mount

Read more: UK at 'risk' of 'tiptoeing into proxy war with Russia', warns former top security adviser

"It shows Putin is prepared to risk lives to sow division and confusion among allies."

Ms Truss has also sanctioned the Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics, a subsidiary of the Russian defence ministry, over an incident where the safety controls of a Saudi petro-chemicals plant were overridden in 2017.

Caller fears for family in Kyiv amid chemical weapon threat

"We are sending a clear message to the Kremlin by sanctioning those who target people, businesses and infrastructure," she said.

"We will not tolerate it. We will continue to work together with our allies to turn the ratchet and starve Putin's war machine of its funding and resources."

The UK's National Cyber Security Centre said it was "almost certain" the FSB's Centre 16 was behind the campaign.

The cell is also known under hacking pseudonyms like Energetic Bear, Berserk Bear and Crouching Yeti. It aimed for IT systems and national infrastructure in Europe, the Americas and Asia.

The Foreign Office said Centre 16 concentrated on engineering and industrial control firms.

Hackers "may be able to access contact lists of hacked companies and establish long term access to networks", the Foreign Office said. Energy companies were also targeted.

PM: Beyond satire Russia would be allowed to host Euros

Centre 16 was also linked to compromising software used by European manufactures and wind turbine developers.

It is said to have gained access to European and North American energy sectors through spear phishing attacks, a tactic involving targeted emails or texts that are sent to people or organisations to steal data or commit espionage or fraud.

And the West also accuses it of stealing user information and getting in US energy and nuclear facilities, as well as water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors.

The US's Department of Justice has charged four people, all Russians who worked for the Russian government, in relation to hacking.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

The Israeli Iron Dome air defence system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran

Israel hails ‘success’ in blocking Iran’s unprecedented attack

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the Middle East is 'on the brink'

'The Middle East is on the brink,' UN chief warns, as Israel approves plan of attack after huge Iranian onslaught

Elections 2024 Media Debates

News organisations urge Joe Biden and Donald Trump to agree to debates

Survivors of the attack are set to sue MI5

Hundreds of survivors of Manchester Arena bombing to sue MI5

The UK is set to experience some warm, dry weather

Two-week period when Brits to bask in warm, dry weather revealed, after cold period ahead

Lennix died after being hit by a car on Saturday

Parents pay tribute to 'happy go lucky' son, 8, killed in crash while riding scooter on quiet Wiltshire road

Damien Guerot stepped in in Sydney

Builder who wielded bollard to defend children from rampaging Sydney knifeman says attacker's 'eyes were empty'

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

Israel approves plan of attack after foiling massive Iran onslaught, as world leaders call for 'stabilisation'

The G7 have condemned the Iran attack on Israel

G7 leaders condemn Iran's 'unprecedented' attack on Israel and say they 'stand ready to take further measures'

Russia Ukraine War

More civilians die in Ukraine amid warning US aid delays will hamper Kyiv forces

The minibus lying on its side

Seventeen rushed to hospital after bus carrying football fans overturns on motorway in multiple car smash

Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy and Paloma Faith join celebrities demanding Government act over Sudan

Dawn Singleton was among six victims of the stabbings

Police officer fiancé of Sydney stabbing victim 'discovered she had been killed after being scrambled to the scene'

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

Israel says Iran conflict 'not over' and vows to 'collect a price when timing is right', as US urges restraint

Poland Abortion

Polish opponents of abortion march against recent steps to liberalise strict law

A boy, 8, was killed in the incident.

Boy, 8, dies after crash on quiet Wiltshire cul-de-sac