By Zeba Siddiqui
SAN FRANCISCO, June 22 (Reuters) – Russian government hackers recently carried out multiple cyber espionage operations targeting countries allied with Ukraine since its February invasion, Microsoft said in a report on Wednesday, illustrating the scale of Moscow’s ongoing hacking activities.
“The cyber aspects of the current war extend far beyond Ukraine and reflect the unique nature of cyberspace,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in the report.
Researchers had already traced a series of destructive cyberattacks on Ukrainian entities to Russian state-backed hacking groups since the conflict began. They have now found that 128 organizations in 42 countries outside Ukraine were also targeted by the same groups in stealthy, espionage-focused hacks, according to the report.
Many of these recent intrusion efforts were aimed at the United States, Microsoft researchers wrote, but several member countries of the military alliance NATO – which has provided critical support to Ukraine amid the conflict – were hit too.
This includes organizations based in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, and Norway, as well as Finland and Office 2021 Sweden, who have voiced their desire to join the NATO alliance in recent months.
“The target appeared to be mostly governments, although also included think tanks, humanitarian groups, and critical infrastructure providers,” the report notes.
The Russian embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)