8 Dec 2023

GCSB Minister Judith Collins condemns Russian cyber attacks

9:34 am on 8 December 2023
Judith Collins

Judith Collins Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

New Zealand is joining other nations, including Britain, in condemning Russian government malicious cyber-attacks.

In a statement released this morning, Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau Judith Collins said this country was backing a position taken by the UK and other allies.

The UK government said earlier today malicious cyber activity was affecting its domestic democratic institutions and processes, as well as civil society organisations. It blamed Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

"New Zealand stands with the UK in calling out this behaviour," Collins said.

"New Zealand does not tolerate attempts to undermine the integrity of democratic institutions through cyber or any other means.

"NGOs [non-government organisations] and civil society organisations also play an important role in enabling social inclusion in our democracies, and any attempt to interfere with their ability to do that is unacceptable.

"Russia's pattern of malicious cyber activity continues to demonstrate disregard for the framework of responsible state behaviour online and for the international rules-based order."

Collins said it was a reminder to businesses and other organisations in New Zealand to ensure they had strong cyber security measures in place and were protecting their data from all kinds of cyber harm.

"New Zealand condemns the unacceptable actions of Russian state actors and calls for all states to behave responsibly online."

The UK is accusing Russia's Security Service, the FSB, of a sustained cyber-hacking campaign, targeting politicians and others in public life, the BBC reported.

The group is accused of carrying out hundreds of highly targeted hacks against politicians, civil servants, those working for think-tanks, journalists, academics and others in public life. These mainly targeted the private emails of individuals following extensive research and the creation of false accounts impersonating their trusted contacts.

It is believed the group linked to the FSB - and specifically the part of it known as Centre 18 - has been targeting the UK by stealing information from those in political and public life since at least 2015, the BBC report said. The public accusation is aimed at disrupting the group's work and increasing awareness ahead of major elections around the world next year.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) is the successor agency to the KGB, which operated throughout the Cold War.

Russia has repeatedly denied claims it is involved in such activities.

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