"We judge that Russia’s intelligence services are targeting the critical national infrastructure of many countries in order to look for vulnerabilities. This global campaign also seeks to compromise central government networks. I can disclose that in the last 18 months, the National Cyber Security Centre has shared information and assessments with 16 NATO Allies – and even more nations outside the Alliance — of Russian cyber activity in their countries", Hunt is expected to say at the NATO Cyber Defence Pledge Conference in London later on Thursday.
The excerpts of Hunt’s speech were revealed by the UK Foreign Office.
Hunt will also speak on the United Kingdom sharing technical expertise with other states in a bid to counter the alleged Russia threat. The top diplomat will mention alleged Russian efforts to meddle in Ukrainian and US elections as threats to democracy.
"Recent events demonstrate that our adversaries regard democratic elections as a key vulnerability of an open society […] We must be crystal clear that any cyber operations designed to manipulate another country’s electoral system and alter the result would breach international law — and justify a proportionate response. Together, we possess options for responding to any attacks that fall below the threshold for Article V. We should be prepared to use them", Hunt will say.
Russia has repeatedly denied claims it has carried out any activities against other states in cyberspace, including meddling in their electoral processes. Moreover, Moscow has called for international cooperation in cybersecurity.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has suggested that the United Kingdom had decided to explain its internal problems with Russian meddling, following the example of the US Democratic Party which justified its 2016 presidential election loss by US President Donald Trump’s alleged ties with Moscow.
Relations between Russia and the United Kingdom have soured in the last year over the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The two were hospitalized in the United Kingdom and eventually released. London has accused Moscow of carrying out the attack, while Russian officials have refuted the allegations and stressed that Moscow has been denied access to the investigation and to the poisoned Russian nationals. UK media reports, citing alleged leaks, have, meanwhile, virtually become the sole source of news about the probe.
Back in November 2018, the international hacktivist group Anonymous revealed that the UK had established a "large-scale information secret service" in Europe, the United States and Canada to interfere in other countries' domestic affairs. In particular, the UK Integrity Initiative non-governmental organization, whose motto is "defending democracy against disinformation", was used by London to meddle in its "allies'" internal affairs.
According to the hacktivist group, the Integrity Initiative project was operated by UK authorities through "concealed contacts in British embassies" with "clusters" in mainland Europe, Canada and the United States.
The cost of the Initiative for the fiscal year ending on 31 March 2019 was revealed to total $2.51 million. The US State Department, NATO and Facebook were among those alleged to have helped fund the project.