Russia-based hackers and cyber criminals have been showing most aggressive spying activity in Latvia - report

  • 2020-03-18
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Russia-based groups of hackers and cyber criminals, suspected by Western countries of collaboration with Russian secret services, showed the most aggressive espionage activity in Latvia last year, according of the 2019 report released by the State Security Service (VDD).

Intelligence risks associated with a ubiquitous presence of information and communication technologies in Latvians' day-to-day lives did not decreased last year either. Moreover, there are no reasons to expect the situation in that respect might improve in the nearest future, VDD warned.

Monitoring activities in the cyber space, VDD observed various hostile activities targeting Latvia and involving criminal and foreign-backed activities. 

So far, Russia-based groups of hackers and cyber criminals, suspected by Western countries of collaboration with Russian secret services, have been launching the most aggressive spying activities in Latvia's cyber space. 

Analysis of advanced persistent threat (APT) cases shows that just like with recruiting agents in Latvia, foreign cyber spies carry out a thorough examination of their target before infecting it with specially adjusted malware. 

APT targets are mostly government and municipal institutions, critical infrastructure and strategic objects, VDD said. 

Groups of hackers, either sponsored by some foreign countries or driven by personal interest, took advantage of some Latvian ICT services providers they found attractive because of their location in the EU, fast internet connections and the ability to communicate in Russian, as well as an often careless attitude to quality control, VDD said.

VDD in cooperation with other Latvian security agencies and Latvia's  Information Technology Security Incident Response Institution Cert.lv, as well as international partners, detected a number of cybersecurity incidents last year. 

Investigations of such cases reveals that both ICT providers and users have often been reckless about cybersecurity, which allows malicious hackers to compromise and steal data, infect computers with malware and extort money from people and organizations. 

As reported, VDD said in an earlier report that  Russian intelligence services continued its hostile activities towards Latvia last year.