Sputnik discussed the recent leak with Kevin Curran, professor of Cyber Security at the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment at Ulster University.
Sputnik: What is your reaction to the latest batch of documents leaked by Anonymous?
Kevin Curran: We do know that the Integrity Initiative, which comes from the Institute for Statecraft, it's their project, they have not disputed their authenticity and, of course, they reacted by blaming Russia for the hack and saying that Russian media is amplifying the impact of this. And in a statement last month they confirmed that at least some of the documents leaked by the group were authentic. Again, they didn't rule out the possibility that some of them may have been false or doctored, but I don't see the need for that when you have explosive documents like this, that even the Integrity Initiative themselves have said that these documents are authentic.
I can even echo David Miller who is a professor of political sociology at the University of Bristol, he said that: "The Integrity Initiative and the Foreign Office are effectively admitting that they are being accused of doing something wrong, so they haven't got anywhere to go".
Of course, the hacker group Anonymous do have a track record of leaking authentic documents, this is one of the most famous hacker groups in the world and they've had some major exposures again, and this is just another one of those where they've released documents again from Institute for Statecraft shown back in 2014; one of these documents shows that Christopher Donnelly, a special adviser to the House of Commons Defence Committee, laid out a number of suggestions to the British authorities just days before Crimea's reunification with Russia that included mining Sevastopol's harbour and a whole list of instructions like set up a "cordon sanitaire" across Crimea and on the coast, and what to do, and why it would be effective. So these documents really seem to be authentic.
Sputnik: Aren't mines illegal now? This was never done. If this was just suggested, then what's the harm, if this was, of course, not taken seriously and no steps were taken to actually put this into place?
Kevin Curran: The fact is that we have this which seems to be a really, really severe way of doing something, but also what we have really here again is one country influencing another country, and where is there transparency into this? We would like an accountable security service as well, but it does seem like a very severe measure to take.
Sputnik: Is there any truth in that the UK's, perhaps, attempting to put blame on Russia in a bid to distract the population from various domestic problems; Brexit, for instance?
Kevin Curran: It's always possible, but it's a hard one to say, because, in this case especially, because of the social media accounts which have been found to be used against Jeremy Corbyn, George Galloway and others. It's hard to see why they would want that released. I think it's just a genuine hack, it's been a hack by an elite hacking group, it's leaked a lot of documents which are particularly embarrassing, shows a lack of transparency within government, it shows covert operations against the opposition. It's hard for me to see that this was a deliberate attempt to leak any of this so that it would distract the public because, again, people are distracted anyway by having Brexit. I think that they've just really been hacked and I think more revelations will follow and I think we may see bigger stories emerge from the leaked documents from this Integrity Initiative, which comes from the Institute for Statecraft.
Sputnik: To what extent has this already impacted the public and their trust in government? Has this been a pretty widespread story or how effective is this leak by Anonymous in disclosing what is actually going on?
Sputnik: It seems that earlier Anonymous had published information pointing to the fact that the UK have funded an anti-Russian information campaign across Europe. Why do you think that would've been done?
Kevin Curran: Again, if they perceive that Russia is doing the same as they perceive China is doing the same, it is so easy nowadays because of the fake news problems within social media. Again, just the impact that was given, probably wrongly, towards the influence of the elections in America, as if people were really influenced by what they were seeing on their Facebook pages, it takes a lot more to change people's opinion, but there seems to be a lot of public funding available for people who can come along and say that we are able to counter this disinformation online, we will be able to do this, we will be able to do that. So again, this is what seems to have happened in this case, someone has come along and said we can counteract disinformation, we can be proactive about it as well, and please give us money and it seems that the governments have done that and have done that again in this particular project, which goes right across Europe and has got NATO allies involved again. So what we have is a pro-European approach, it seems, to be able to provide disinformation against Russia.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.