Russia responsible for over half of all state-sponsored hacking

A new report has claimed that Russia is responsible for over half of all state-sponsored hacking, vastly more than any other state.

The Digital Defence Report, published by Microsoft, claims that Russian activity contributed to 52 per cent of all attacks between July 2019 and June 2020, followed by Iran on 25 per cent. The report says that China is responsible for 12 per cent of attacks, while North Korea and other states make up the final 11 per cent.

The software giant states that the majority of targets by Russia have been situated in the United Sates, the victim of nearly 70 per cent of their hacking attempts. The UK is targeted 19 per cent of the time. The targets are predominantly ‘nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), advocacy groups, human rights organisations and think tanks focused on public policy, international affairs or security’.

This suggests that hackers are seeking to influence government policy through subtler means, as opposed to the previous method of plotting against a country’s critical national infrastructure – such as the national grid or financial services.

Tom Burt, Microsoft corporate VP, said in a blog post about the report: “Microsoft observed 16 different nation-state actors either targeting customers involved in the global Covid-19 response efforts or using the crisis in themed lures to expand their credential theft and malware delivery tactics. These Covid-themed attacks targeted prominent governmental health care organisations in efforts to perform reconnaissance on their networks or people. Academic and commercial organisations involved in vaccine research were also targeted.”

Away from Russia, the report alleges that hackers from China have been targeting medial institutions in the US and Asia, in a likely attempt to steal proprietary information during the coronavirus pandemic. Hackers from Iran and South Korea are also reported to have focused on global health institutions.

The National Cyber Security Centre here in the UK recently claimed that Russia was stealing secret research on coronavirus vaccines from UK labs, with the vaccine research facilities at Oxford University and Imperial College London among institutions targeted by the hackers.


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