President Vladimir Putin says patriotic hackers may have launched cyber attacks against foreign countries and but denied Russia involvement in cyber espionage campaigns.
Russian state-sponsored APT groups area accused of continuous interferences with 2016 US Presidential Election elections in the United States, and experts also speculate the involvement of the same hackers in French elections.
Putin told journalists on Thursday at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg that it is impossible to predict the operations of Russian hackers against the upcoming elections in Germany because hackers are unpredictable like artists.
“If artists get up in the morning feeling good, all they do all day is paint,” Putin said. “The same goes for hackers. They got up today and read that something is going on internationally. If they are feeling patriotic they will start contributing, as they believe, to the justified fight against those speaking ill of Russia.”
President Putin excludes his country engagement in cyber espionage against foreign governments, he also highlighted that hackers could use false flags to make hard the attribution of a cyber attack.
Putin also excludes that cyber attacks against politicians and parties can have a real impact on elections.
“We do not engage in this activity at the government level and are not going to engage in it. On the contrary, we try to prevent this from happening in our country,” he said. “At any rate, I believe that no hackers can affect the election campaign in any European country, nor in Asia or in America.”
To highlight the complexity of attributing a cyber attacks let me add that while President Putin made the declaration on the patriotic hackers, the head of the French government’s cyber security agency, which investigated leaks from President Emmanuel Macron‘s election campaign, said the French intelligence has found no trace of a Russian hacking groups behind the cyber attack.
“In an interview in his office Thursday with The Associated Press, Guillaume Poupard said the Macron campaign hack “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.” reported the Time.
Back to the declarations of President Putin, Thomas Rid, a professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, speculate they are part of the Russian strategic.
Putin is a professional. He knows his intel history. He likely knows that sooner or later operators will talk, write memoirs; may take years
— Thomas Rid (@RidT) June 1, 2017
Almost any security firm has linked the APT 28, APT29 and Turla campaigns to Russian Government, the declaration of President Putin do not convince us, but without solid evidence we cannot contradict them.
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(Security Affairs – Patriotic hackers, President Putin)