Russian spies are suspected of penetrating the Treasury and other departments
ON SEPTEMBER 25TH Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, warned that “one of the main strategic challenges of our time is the risk of a large-scale confrontation in the digital sphere”. He proffered a solution. “In a mutually acceptable form,” he said, Russia and America would “exchange guarantees of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, including electoral processes, including using ICT and high-tech methods”—in other words, a cyber-truce. Even as he spoke, a team of Russian hackers was apparently deep inside some of America’s most sensitive networks.
The team, known as APT29 or more evocatively as Cozy Bear, thought to be part of the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, are reported by several media outlets to have penetrated America’s Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security departments, among others, where they could read internal emails at will. One former cyber-security official says the intrusion is one of the largest he has ever seen. It is believed to be the latest front in a broader Russian campaign. In October America and Britain accused a different Russian hacking group—Fancy Bear—of a string of cyber-attacks during 2015-19 against everything from Ukraine’s power grid to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.