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Cyberattacks On Baltic States: Russian Influence And Disruption

These campaigns have aimed to create fear and panic among the populace, disrupt state institutions' functioning, and breed dissatisfaction with government.

by Ashish Khaitan March 11, 2024 in Firewall Daily, Hacker News Reading Time: 3 mins read 0

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A recent security report from Lithuania highlights a concerning increase in Russian influence operations targeting the Baltic States and Poland. These campaigns are noted for their escalating aggressiveness and sophistication, with a notable impact on society.

Since the onset of the , the narratives of these information campaigns have sought to reduce the apparent importance of Western sanctions on Russia's economy, instigate hatred against Ukraine, and target Western countries. 

Moreover, these campaigns have aimed to create fear and panic among the populace, disrupt state institutions' functioning, and breed dissatisfaction with government decisions within the targeted countries.

Russian Influence Operations: Cyberattacks on Baltic States 

Several Russian states, specifically Moscow, have made it clear to undermine the impact of Western sanctions, fueling animosity towards Ukraine, and pushing Western products out of the nation.

Moreover, apart from defying Western technologies and services, the and Poland inadvertently spread fear, disrupting institutional operations, and fostering public discontent.

One particular tactic was the circulation of false bomb threats in Lithuanian schools, particularly during sensitive periods like the start of the school year and teachers' strikes. These threats, made primarily through Russian-language hoax calls, placed immense pressure on national resources.

Despite crackdowns on Russian propaganda outlets, the Russian hacker groups have managed to bypass sanctions by replicating banned channels, thereby conserving its narratives and undermining media integrity. 

Recent developments, such as the launch of Sputnik radio broadcasts from Kaliningrad into Lithuanian cities, illustrate Russia's determination to bypass sanctions and continue pushing its agenda.

By combining influence operations with cyberattacks, Russia has been able to strike efficiently, and anonymously. This digital toolkit has been deployed not only against the Baltic States but also against former Soviet nations like Moldova, highlighting the broader scope of hybrid threats.

Recent Cases Highlighting the Russian Campaign 

With events like Moldova's elections and EU membership referendum, Russia's hybrid attacks and manipulation of social networks are expected to escalate, spreading hostility, undermining trust in institutions, and weakening support for Ukraine.

Earlier this year, saw several prominent organizations falling victim to cyberattacks attributed to the Russian hacker group . The affected websites of organizations included Compensa Vienna Insurance Group, If Insurance, Lithuanian Roads Association, AD REM, INIT, and Balticum.

In December 2023, the NoName057 hacker group allegedly executed a series of DDoS attacks on Lithuanian websites, targeting sectors such as defense, roads, logistics, mobile operators, telecommunications, internet providers, and authorization services. The threat actors not only claimed responsibility for the attacks but also criticized the Lithuanian authorities.

Furthermore, a cyber attack on the Lithuanian government in July 2023, allegedly linked to the NATO summit leak, revealed sensitive information regarding the summit's security. The hackers, operating under the name “From Russia with love,” claimed to have accessed information on officials in charge, delegation movement routes, and security systems.

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