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Russia accuses hostile foreign powers of plot to undermine its banks

Let's get ready to rouble

Russia has accused unnamed foreign spies of launching a concerted effort to undermine its domestic banking system.

Cyber attacks are being combined with fake social media reports about banks going bust, according to Russia's state security agency, the FSB. Servers physically located in the Netherlands and leased to BlazingFast, a Ukrainian web-hosting firm, were primed to launch an assault next Monday.

In a statement, the FSB alleged: "It was planned that the cyber attack would be accompanied by a mass send-out of SMS messages and publications in social media of a provocative nature regarding a crisis in the Russian banking system, bankruptcies and license withdrawals.

"The FSB is carrying out the necessary measures to neutralise threats to Russia's economic and information security."

Russia's central bank told Reuters that it had been apprised of the threat. "The situation is under control," a spokesperson told the news agency. "Banks have been given necessary guidance."

Anton Onoprichuk, director of Kiev-based BlazingFast, told Reuters that he was waiting for more information that would allow his firm to investigate the supposed threat.

Russia was blamed by US officials for hacks against the Democratic Party and the subsequent leak of emails during the presidential election. Russian authorities have been at a heightened state of alert over recent weeks. Last month, Russian banks including Sberbank were targeted by a series of denial-of-service attacks, as previously reported. Initial indications were that the infamous Mirai IoT botnet might have been responsible.

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