(Cyberwar.news) The German government is blaming Russia for what Berlin’s intelligence agency says is the most aggressive cyber attacks ever launched at government systems, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, warning that Moscow was currently conducting a series of long-term cyber-sabotage campaigns that pose a serious threat to government, business and university IT systems.
German officials with the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, or BfV, suspect a Russian hacker group known as Sofacy, also known as APT28, is behind the current attacks and also behind one that crippled systems belonging to Germany’s lower house of Parliament last year.
Officials said the group currently was leading an aggressive espionage campaign against the West and that signs hackers were be “steered by the Russian state” are evident, said the BfV in a statement.
The WSJ noted further:
Western officials have repeatedly castigated Russia since its intervention in Ukraine for engaging in hybrid warfare—an array of hostile acts that range from military provocations to large-scale propaganda campaigns and cyberattacks.
“Cyberspace is a theater for hybrid warfare. It offers new room for espionage and sabotage,” said BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen in the statement.
“Campaigns monitored by the BfV are mainly targeted at collecting information, which means espionage. Meanwhile, Russian intelligence agencies are also showing readiness (to carry out) sabotage.”
Previously, Maassen said last year’s cyber assault on the German federal parliament were likely carried out by a foreign spy agency and that Russian spies were capable of such a serious attack, but he did not specifically blame Moscow.
The attack forced parliament to shut down its computer system for several days last year and to reconfigure networks after data had been lifted by hackers, the paper reported.
Trend Micro, z security research firm, noted that it discovered in April this year that APT28 had begun a new hacking attack against the computer systems of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party.
Others targeted by the group have included Russian political opposition figures, U.S. military and defense contractors, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Trend Micro has noted.
Meanwhile, in neighboring France, investigators there concluded last year that a group of Russian hackers posing as Islamic State militants directed a cyberattack against a French-language broadcaster, TV5Monde, crippling it.