Copyright © 2024

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Russia-linked cyber attacks targeted 104 accounts of European think tanks

Russia-linked cyber attacks targeted 104 accounts of European think tanks
Russia-linked cyber attacks targeted 104 accounts of European think tanks
Edited by: Yuri Zoria
On 20 February 2019, Microsoft announced that it had discovered cyber attacks against several democratic institutions, think tanks, and non-profit organizations in Europe, totaling 104 breach attempts. The hacks took place between September and December 2018, affecting institutions including the German Council on Foreign Relations and European offices of The Aspen Institute and The German Marshall Fund.

In total, 104 employee accounts in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, and Serbia were targeted via spear phishing campaigns designed to gain access to employee credentials and deliver malware. Spear phishing attacks are a more sophisticated form of phishing, in which hackers include malicious URLs in spoofed email addresses that look legitimate to the recipient.

While the sources of the cyber attacks are still being investigated by Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center, the company has stated with confidence that the majority originated from a group called Strontium – also known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear – which is believed to be associated with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. Fancy Bear is one of the groups responsible for the 2016 hacking of the US Democratic National Committee and has also been linked to intrusions into the German Bundestag and France’s TV5 Monde. In 2018, Fancy Bear leaked emails stolen from the International Olympic Committee and anti-doping agencies following Russia’s ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics.

A Microsoft company blog post highlights the ongoing cyber threat facing Europe and emphasizes that such “attacks are not limited to campaigns themselves but often extend to think tanks and non-profit organizations working on topics related to democracy, electoral integrity, and public policy and those are often in contact with government officials.”

In light of these latest attacks and persistent security concerns about the upcoming European elections, Microsoft has confirmed the rollout of its free cybersecurity service AccountGuard to twelve new EU nations in order to help them close their security gaps. The company did not mince words about the severity of the threat: “The attacks we’ve seen recently, coupled with others we discussed last year, suggest an ongoing effort to target democratic organizations. They validate the warnings from European leaders about the threat level we should expect to see in Europe this year.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine remains a testing ground for the Russian cyber attacks for years. For example, the latest attack on the servers of the Central Election Commission just a month before the presidential election had been recorded on 24-25 February, according to President Petro Poroshenko, and the Security Service o Ukraine has reportedly repelled it.

Further reading:


Edited by: Yuri Zoria
You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here

    Will the West continue to support Ukraine?
    • Know what moves the world.
    • Stay informed with Kompreno.
    • Get quality journalism from across Europe.
    Special discount
    for Euromaidan Press readers
    Euromaidan Press

    We are an independent media outlet that relies solely on advertising revenue to sustain itself. We do not endorse or promote any products or services for financial gain. Therefore, we kindly ask for your support by disabling your ad blocker. Your assistance helps us continue providing quality content. Thank you!

    Related Posts