- An “unknown number” of anti-Kremlin journalists, activists and organisations in the UK have reportedly been targeted by the same hackers.
- The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre told Ben Bradshaw, a Labour politician targeted in the campaign, its investigation was ongoing.
- Investigative journalism website Bellingcat and reporter Carole Cadwalladr are understood to have been targeted.
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An “unknown number” of anti-Kremlin activists have reportedly been targeted by Russian hackers, according to British MP Ben Bradshaw.
On Thursday, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre is understood to have confirmed to Bradshaw that a number of individuals and organisations, all critics of alleged Russian interference in foreign elections, had been targeted by the same campaign.
Bradshaw’s campaign team received an email purporting to be from a Russian government whistleblower, promising insider knowledge of the Kremlin’s operations. Sky first reported news of the original email.
He told Business Insider that while “nothing malicious” had been detected in the email itself, the NCSC believed it to be a “spear phishing” exercise, in which hackers try to establish trust with their targets before sending them malicious links.
Bradshaw, an ardent campaigner against Russia’s alleged election meddling, said: “I’m not surprised, given everything I’ve done trying to expose the subversion of our democracy. For me, this makes it all the more scandalous that Boris Johnson is still refusing to publish the independent report on Russian interference.”
The emails were sent to a number of activists, writers and organisations using ProtonMail, an encrypted email service. Andy Yen, the company’s co-founder and CEO, told Sky he would consider any phishing emails sent using ProtonMail an “abuse of the platform”.
He said: “We do not condone or permit the usage of our service for illegal activities and we are working with the relevant law enforcement authorities to confirm the allegations.” Mr Yen added that his company would “fully assist” any investigation into the campaign.
Business Insider understands that the NCSC believes similar emails sent to Bellingcat, an investigative journalism website, and Carole Cadwalladr, an Observer reporter, came from the same source.
Business Insider previously reported Prime Minister Boris Johnson had apparently blocked a report into Russian interference in UK elections because it revealed “embarrassing” links between Conservative donors and the Kremlin.
Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee submitted their report on Russian interference in UK elections to Downing Street two weeks ago. However, Johnson’s government has insisted that it is not “publishable” prior to the election.
Business Insider approached the NCSC for comment.