Star Blizzard, a hacking group allegedly sponsored by Russia’s intelligence agency Centre 18, has recently made headlines for engaging in long-term espionage on prominent figures in the United Kingdom, including top politicians, journalists, and bureaucrats. The discovery of this covert activity is recent, and the extent of the damage is yet to be fully assessed.
Over the years, various nations, such as China, Russia, North Korea, and more recently, Iran, have been involved in spying on Western populations and governments. However, the current situation takes a more serious turn as the Kremlin is directly accused of orchestrating digital attacks on the critical infrastructure of the United Kingdom.
The government led by Rishi Sunak has not only pointed fingers at Star Blizzard but has also leveled allegations against the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Moscow, the official spy agency overseen by Ruslan Aleksandrowich Peretytko and Andreah Stanislavovich Korinets.
American cybersecurity company ‘SecureWorks’ has investigated these claims and, after a comprehensive analysis, concluded that Centre 18 has been responsible for a significant portion of destructive cyber activities in the West since 2017. Notably, this intelligence agency was previously linked to an attack on Yahoo, resulting in the theft of over 50 million email addresses and user information between 2016 and 2017.
The FSB reportedly directed Centre 18 to shift its focus primarily to Ukraine from May 2022, shortly after the conclusion of Russia’s conflict with the Zelenskyy-led nation. Subsequently, the agency’s mandate expanded to include spying and intelligence gathering from all developed nations, collaborating with other hacking groups such as Sandworm, Fancy Bear, and Cozy Bear.
Star Blizzard, identified as one of Centre 18’s espionage teams, had been actively infiltrating UK government networks for an extended period. However, a joint effort by MI6 and GCHQ’s cyber arm, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), successfully detected and neutralized the group in September 2023, putting an end to the years-long drama of invading the privacy of privileged citizens.