The Foreign Office Minister Leo Docherty has warned on Thursday that Russian spies have compromised government and journalists phones to “meddle in British politics.”
Docherty told MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday morning that the Russian security service, the FSB have “attempted cyber interference” along with “malicious cyber activity” to interfere with the UK political process.
He said that Russian spies executed an exercise called spear-phishing to steal information from a “significant” number of MPs from various British political parties.
The group are known as “Star Blizzard” who are “almost certainly” a cyber unit of the Russian security service and they had “selectively leaked and amplified information” over the past eight years.
Docherty said that sanctions will now be imposed on two members of Star Blizzard, who are Andrey Stanislavovich Korinets, AKA Alexey Doguzhiev, and FSB intelligence officer Ruslan Aleksandrovich Peretyatko.
He said that the Russian ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office and he was told “these actions have consequences.”
The ambassador was then unavailable and a senior member of the Russian government instead attended.
Docherty said, “I can confirm today that the Russian Federal Security Services, the FSB, is behind a sustained effort to interfere in our democratic processes.
“They have targeted members of this House and the (House of Lords). They have been targeting civil servants, journalists and NGOs (non-governmental organisations).
“They have been targeting high-profile individuals and entities with a clear intent – using information they obtain to meddle in British politics.”
He added, “We want to be as open as we can be with the House and the British public. Our commitment to transparency stands in sharp contrast to the efforts of the KGB successors to exert influence from the shadows.
“Centre 18, a unit within Russia’s FSB, has been involved in a range of cyber espionage operations targeting the United Kingdom.
“Secondly, that Star Blizzard, a cyber group the National Cyber Security Centre assesses is almost certainly subordinate to Centre 18, is responsible for a range of malign activities targeting British parliamentarians from multiple parties.
“Thirdly, using these means the group have selectively leaked and amplified the release of sensitive information in service of Russia’s goals of confrontation.”
Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said in the Commons, “Russia’s attempts to interfere in UK politics are completely unacceptable and seek to threaten our democratic processes. Despite their repeated efforts, they have failed.
“In sanctioning those responsible and summoning the Russian ambassador today, we are exposing their malign attempts at influence and shining a light on yet another example of how Russia chooses to operate on the global stage.
“We will continue to work together with our allies to expose Russian covert cyber activity and hold Russia to account for its actions.”