Russian Intelligence Contractor Hacked, Secret Projects Exposed

Red faces at the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) after a contractor working for it was hacked, exposing the secret projects being worked on.

The secret projects were leaked to Russian media outlets, and reportedly include Russia’s attempts to de-anonymize users on the Tor network, collect data from social networks, and how to isolate the Russian portion of the Internet from the rest of the world, Bleeping Computer reported.

Tor is an anonymous web browser, often used by those people wishing to avoid government surveillance or access the dark web. It is used in Russia by at least 300,000 people.

Contractor hack

BBC Russia reported that the hackers stole some 7.5 terabytes of data from SyTech, a contractor for Russia’s Federal Security Service FSB, the successor intelligence service to the KGB.

A hacking group called 0v1ru$ hit SyTech on 13th July, and as part of the attack defaced the contactor’s wensite to show an image of “Yoba-face”, which they posted an image of on their Twitter feed.

Among the terabytes of data stolen, was information about the many secret projects being developed by SyTech on behalf of the Russian government and its intelligence agency.

The hackers posted images of internal pages of SyTech’s web site and of server drives and users to prove they had hacked the contractor.

0v1ru$ then passed this data on to another hacking group called DigitalRevolution, who shared the data with Russian media.

So what exactly was SyTech working on for the FSB, other than trying to de-anonymize users on the Tor network?

Another project that SyTech was reportedly working on was called Mentor, allegedly being developed for the Russian military unit No. 71330. This project allegedly concerns the monitoring selected email accounts at specified intervals in order to collect information related to certain phrases.

Another project is called Nadezhda, which is designed to visualise how Russia is connected to the rest of the Internet. This research according to Bleeping Computer is part of Russia’s attempts to create a ‘sovereign Internet’ where Russia can isolate itself from the rest of the Internet.

Meanwhile another project called Nautilus was designed to collect information about users on social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace.

Russian projects

The Nautilus-S project is research into de-anonymising users on the Tor network by creating exit nodes controlled by the Russian government.

Last month Russia denied an Israeli accusation that it is behind the disruption of GPS signals at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport.

The Ben Gurion Airport is the main international airport of Israel and the busiest airport in the country, but since early June GPS signals for pilots and aeroplanes at the airport have been unreliable.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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