Following up on reports last week, officials from Baltic Nations and the NATO alliance are now claiming that the Russian military is responsible for the recent power outage on Latvia’s communications network. Officials have reached this conclusion because the same time period during which Baltic nations first started experiencing technical difficulties just so happened to coincide with scheduled Russian War Game drills, code-named “Zapad.”
According to Sweden’s Defense Ministry, “the cyber attacks caused the interruption of the mobile network along Latvia’s western coast for seven hours on Aug. 30.” Explaining how “the Russian army may have used communications jammer aimed towards Sweden from the Russia’s Baltic outpost Kaliningrad.” While adding that Sweden “was not aware of any jamming attempt directed at Sweden infrastructure.”
Zapad drills – Russia may have tested cyber weapons on Latvia https://t.co/vGxsFt0lrQ
— Security Affairs (@securityaffairs) October 9, 2017
In an interview with Reuters, the Deputy Chairman of Latvia’s Parliament explained that “Russia appears to have switched on a mobile communications jammer in Kaliningrad, a very powerful one that wasn’t aimed at Latvia, but towards Gotland, the Aland Islands.” Adding that “One of the edges (of the beam) affected Latvia too.” This implies that whatever the weapon or signal jammer actually was, it has the ability to at least interfere with communication signals hundreds of square miles away for extended periods of time.
According to the Reuters report, “Russia simulated an attack on all Baltic countries” from the end of August into September. Latvian officials also believe the Russian military is behind a recent string of disruptions on the countries emergency services hotline, which has been under attack since mid-September. According to further analysis of the drills, it is now believed that Russia’s military is in possession of “hacking drones” and mobile stingray systems. The drones have the capability of launching cyber attacks against any targets beneath them on the ground and the stingrays are designed to intercept and record the communications of any devices within its signal radius.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher L’Heureux said that “at least six soldiers he commands have had phones or Facebook accounts hacked” in the region and he believes that these “incidents were meant as a message that Russian intelligence forces were tracking him, could crack his passwords and wanted to intimidate his soldiers.” According to the WSJ, “Military cyberespionage experts said the drone flights and cellphone data collection suggest Russia is trying to monitor troop levels at NATO’s new bases to see if there are more forces present there than the alliance has publicly disclosed.”
NATO believes that Russia’s recent Zapad drills were meant to showcase Russia’s cyber capabilities, proving that many European allies and even NATO are not yet prepared to fully rebel a potential Cyber War with the country. U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who heads U.S. Army forces in Europe, told reporters that NATO acknowledges that Russia has ability to intercept signals and jam civilian networks “within a significant radius and with relative ease” and therefore, poses a serious risks for NATO communications and radars. Hodges also warns that Russia has gone to develop “a significant electronic warfare capability” over the past three years and “a lot of this was on display during the (Zapad) exercises.”
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) October 6, 2017
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