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Russian Lawmaker claims West Funding Spies via Crypto

Russian Lawmaker claims West Funding Spies via Crypto


Good day everyone,

I hope you are all well and having excellent day, welcome to CryptoGod-1’s blog on all things crypto. In this post I will be looking at claims from a Russian lawmaker where he stated that agencies in the West have been funding spies throughout Russia through the use of cryptocurrencies.

 

 

Crypto Funded Spies

The First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma’s Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption in Russia, Andrei Lugovoy, has noted that spies and agents from Western countries are using crypto to fund their operations. This comes from News.ru, and it was noted from a speech in parliament on Tuesday the 20th of February 2024. 

During the speech Lugovoy noted that “cryptocurrency is “the only way to refill the wallets of foreign agents.” He also claimed these people were “instruments of soft power.” According to Lugovoy these people are agents which answer to “the US State Department and the British Foreign Ministry.” The lawmaker went on to state: 

 

“These are sophisticated foreign agents. And we must understand that their activities are organized primarily by the intelligence services. They are not so idiotic that they would transfer money from an account in Geneva to Moscow. Cryptocurrency is now the only way to refill their wallets.”

 

Lugovoy also brought up previous claims and criticism of inability from the Russian government in their approach to launching cryptocurrency regulations. He added that if such legislation was brought to pass, it could act as a deterrent in preventing “foreign agents” from accessing crypto.

 

“Two years ago, on the initiative of our chairman, we created a crypto regulation working group. And what has happened since then?”

 

It is not the first time that Lugovoy has chastised the government, having noted their failure to create crypto regulation earlier in February this year. 

 

“The lack of regulation in the cryptocurrency sector in Russia plays into the hands of [the West’s] sanctions policy against our country. It is undermining the anti-sanctions policies of the Russian government.”

 

He also voiced his concerns over the crypto working groups which had been established to work on bridging the impasse between top ministries, law enforcement agencies, and the Russian Central Bank. As with many Central Banks, the Russian one is no different when it comes to their views and scepticism towards cryptocurrencies. 

Lugavoy called for the Russian authorities to identify “foreign agents and their relatives” along with forcing them to “report annually on their income and expenses.” He noted many “foreign agents” in Russia have “apartments and countyside holiday homes.” According to the lawmakers claims these individuals “act under the direction of foreign intelligence services and embassies.” Finally he stated that “foreign agents” are still allowed to move around Russia “unchecked.”

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Russian Spies Impersonating Western Researchers

Back in early February it was reported by 'Recorded Future News' that hackers working for Russia’s intelligence services were apparently impersonating researchers and academics as part of a campaign to gain access to their colleagues’ email accounts. The news came from Keir Giles, the British author of "Russia's War on Everybody" along with a consulting fellow at the Chatham House think tank. They shared a number of suspect emails sent by accounts purporting to be fellow researchers.

The emails are sent as academics pretending to solicit feedback on academic articles. Included in these are an op-ed about sanctions on Moscow and a draft version of Ukraine’s maritime security strategy. Several of the researchers have been successfully compromised by these hackers. It has involved locations such as the United States and Europe and is considered by many to be the latest Russian cyber activity which is being used as both an intelligence-gathering function along with providing the Kremlin with material it can use to discredit its critics. 

According to one victim from the reporting, the emails offer 'authentic feedback' and the spies have created actual articles to support their narrative. According to a spokesperson for the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), who work with victims in confidence once they report an incident, “those who may have fallen victim should not feel embarrassed or ashamed.” 

Independent analyses by cybersecurity companies Secureworks and Mandiant noted that they believed the campaign was perpetrated by a state-sponsored threat group tracked variously as Iron Frontier, Calisto, Coldriver, and Star Blizzard. These have been assessed to be operating for the Russian intelligence services according to the British government.

According to Rafe Pilling, director of threat research at the Secureworks Counter Threat Unit (CTU):

 

“The document uses a common ruse, blurring the content and placing a button (‘Open in Google Drive’) front-and-centre indicating that the viewer should click it in order to de-blur the document,”

 

In fact the button links to a fake Google Drive domain hosted by the hackers which was designed to look like a login page for the target’s account. Anything the user enters on this page, such as their password and two-factor authentication token is captured by the Russian intelligence services and used to access the victim’s email account. Piling also noted:

 

“An interesting side note, in addition to the blurred content in the PDF there are several pages at the end that appear blank but in fact have white-on-white hidden text which appears to be re-arranged extracts from ‘The Little Prince,’ possibly as a spam detection evasion mechanism. Going over the artefacts I have, I’m moderately confident this is IRON FRONTIER. A lot of the tradecraft is similar to what they have done before. The use of a Russian hoster is a little odd, but lots of other things line up with past attacks by that group.”

 

Back in 2023 the British government summoned the Russian ambassador over activities of the hacking group. At the time they noted it as accountable to Center 18 of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and accused of being behind a “sustained but unsuccessful” campaign of hack-and-leak operations designed to undermine democratic institutions. The United States also charged two Russian nationals with being part of Center 18’s spearphishing campaigns dating back to 2016. They were noted as FSB officer Ruslan Aleksandrovich Peretyatko, and Andrey Stanislavovich Korinets known as the creator of the fraudulent domains.

According to the British government, Center 18’s previous targets within the UK have included Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). It was noted that private correspondence between him and his associates appeared online as part of a disinformation narrative after Dearlove's email was hacked.

So far it has been claimed by the British government that Russian attempts to interfere in the country’s democratic processes have been “unsuccessful.” Others are less certain about this claim, and with the expected elections in the United Kingdom later this year, the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy has launched an inquiry to scrutinize how effective the British government has been at protecting the country's democratic integrity from foreign interference.

 

 

 

Both sides are making their claims towards the others illicit activities in terms of cyber crimes. Its an interesting story from both sides and how they are noting the user of things likes cryptocurrencies along with scams as part of spy operations. All in all not much is likely to happen from the allegations of either side but the narrative is always interesting to follow.

Have a great day.

Peace. CryptoGod-1.

 

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cryptogod-1
cryptogod-1

Writer, designer, creator, and life enthusiast. I love to read and write and enjoy sharing my passion for crypto, sports, literature and everything and anything I can enjoy in life.


CryptoGod-1 : Crypto & Blockchain
CryptoGod-1 : Crypto & Blockchain

Enthusiast here looking to share my ideas, thoughts, analysis, and experience when it comes to all things crypto

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