Russia World Cup TV blackout: Putin’s cyber war against UK will devastate ‘soft targets’ | World | News


Cyber and military analysts believe Russia is unlikely to start a direct clash with the West, but so-called “deniable” measures are likely to be launched by the Kremlin.

GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence are already protecting the UK against Kremlin cyber warfare but they fear a hugely ramped up operation in the wake of UK, US and French air strikes in Syria on Saturday.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain would take “every possible precaution” but in a speech on Saturday the Pentagon revealed they had seen a staggering 2,000 percent increase in the number of Russian trolls spreading Kremlin propaganda in the hours following the airstrikes in Syria.

Russia had warned of “consequences” for the airstrikes, and Moscow has already launched online assaults against the UK.

War historian Mark Almond, who has worked as an official election observer in former Soviet nations Ukraine and Georgia, said he believes targeting TV stations would be a likely target for the Kremlin.

The lecturer in Modern History at Oriel College, Oxford said: “Computer-savvy young Russians wanting to prove their loyalty to the motherland might not even need any prompting or pay from the Kremlin to hack into British and other Western infrastructure.

“When it comes to information warfare, the Western media has proved pretty solidly anti-Putin, so disrupting television and radio signals, for example, would be an attractive target for Russian hackers.

“Blotting out the FA Cup final or making the timetable screens at stations and airports go blank doesn’t cost lives, but it would raise blood pressure nationwide. And who would get the blame? Probably the Government.”

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And the World Cup – which attracts more than 3 BILLION viewers and is the planet’s most watched live event – is seen by many as a prime target.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Mr Johnson said: “I think we have to take every possible precaution.

“When you look at what Russia has done, not just in this country, in Salisbury, attacks on TV stations, on the democratic processes, on critical national infrastructure – of course we have to be very, very cautious indeed.”

A National Cyber Security Centre spokesman commented: “We are always vigilant to attacks wherever they come from and we have a full spectrum of capabilities to draw on if required.”

Last week, Ciaran Martin, director of the cyber security centre warned Russia had already hit Britain’s online infrastructure.

He said: “As a Government as a whole we want to counter hostile Russian intent towards the democratic system and we have got all sorts of different parts of government working on that.”

After the strikes, Moscow’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said: “The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left unheard. A pre-designed scenario is being implemented.

“Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.

“All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris. Insulting the president of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.”

Vladimir Putin condemned the strikes as an “act of aggression against a sovereign state” and accused the US and its allies of violating the “norms and principles of international law”.

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