MOSCOW: Russia on Friday said it had uncovered plans by foreign intelligence services to carry out massive cyberattacks this month targeting the country’s financial system.
The FSB security service said in a statement that it had received information on “plans by foreign secret services to carry out large-scale cyberattacks from December 5.”
It said the planned attacks were aimed at “destabilising Russia’s financial system including the activities of a number of major banks.”
The FSB said it was taking “the necessary measures” to “neutralise the threats to Russia’s economic and information security.”
The claim came Moscow-based security giant Kaspersky said in November that a massive cyberattack had hit at least five of Russia’s largest banks.
Kaspersky said those attacks used devices located in 30 countries including the United States.
Russia’s largest lender, state-controlled Sberbank, acknowledged it had been hacked but said its operations had not been interrupted.
However Russia has been blamed for several major hacking operations, with Washington in October formally accusing Moscow of trying to “interfere” in the 2016 White House race with online attacks hitting US political institutions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday said cyberattacks from Russia had become so common they were now a “part of daily life.”
The British intelligence agency MI5 has also warned that Russia is becoming more aggressive and using cyberattacks to promote its foreign policy abroad.
The FSB did not say which countries’ secret services were involved in the latest plot against Russian banks but alleged the attacks would use servers and “command centres” located in the Netherlands belonging to Ukrainian hosting company BlazingFast.
Anton Onopriychuk, director of the Kiev-based company, told AFP it provides “services for protection against cyberattacks, not for attacks.”
“As yet no one has contacted us about this, neither the FSB or clients,” Onopriychuk said, adding that the company would investigate.
The FSB said that “provocative publications” about a crisis in the Russian banking system were planned to appear on social media networks, blogs and mobile phone text messages.