1 of 2 | British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said Thursday that Russia has directed years-long cyberattacks against Britain seeking to interfere with democratic processes. File Photo by Jason Szenes/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Britain on Thursday asserted that Russia has attacked it with years of sustained cyber operations targeting democratic processes.
Britain's National Cyber Security Center said Russia's malicious cyber activity has included targeting members of Parliament from at least 2015 through this year, along with universities, journalists, the public sector and NGOs.
It identified the responsible group as Star Blizzard, which it said is "almost certainly" a subordinate of Center 18 of Russia's Federal Security Service.
"A unit within the Russian Federal Security Service, known as Center 18, has been behind sustained hostile cyber operations aimed at interfering in parts of the U.K.'s democratic processes," British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said in a speech.
"This group, operated by FSB officers, has also selectively leaked and amplified information designed to undermine trust in politics, both in the U.K. and in like-minded states."
The NCSC blamed the group for compromising trade documents between Britain and the United States that were leaked ahead of elections in 2019.
The attacks included a hack of the Institute for Statecraft, a British think tank working on defending democracy from disinformation. The founder of the organization, Christopher Donnelly, was also hacked in 2021.
"Russia's attempts to interfere in U.K. politics are completely unacceptable and seek to threaten our democratic processes. Despite their repeated efforts, they have failed," British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in a statement.
According to the British government, this Russian cyberattack campaign is part of a larger pattern of worldwide Russian intelligence services' "malign cyber activity."
Scottish National Party foreign affairs spokesman Brendan O'Hara said Thursday in the House of Commons that Russia's actions are part of "a persistent pattern of behavior."
Britain's Foreign Office has summoned the Russian ambassador and sanctions have been imposed, Dowden said.
British officials met with the Russian Embassy's deputy head of mission when the ambassador was unavailable.
The sanctions were against two Star Blizzard members -- Russian FSB intelligence officer Aleksandrovich Peretyatko and Andrey Stanislavovich Korinets, aka Alexey Doguzhiev, a member of Star Blizzard.
Star Blizzard is also known as the Callisto Group.
Britain, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada were expected to publish a cyber security advisory Thursday on how to mitigate the cyber activity.