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UK defence secretary: Russian hacks are destabilising Western democracy

And no one has any idea what to actually do about it

The UK defence secretary has accused Russia of using hacking to destabilise the West.

Sir Michael Fallon said the Kremlin is "weaponising misinformation" as part of a sustained campaign that goes beyond alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. NATO needs to do more to combat the threat, the senior cabinet minister warned in a speech at St Andrews University, Scotland, on Thursday.

The defence secretary cited various sources in accusing Russia of nearly knocking France's TV5Monde television station off the air in April 2015, as well as cyber-assaults on Germany's lower house of parliament (the Bundestag) also in 2015, in addition to hacks against the US Democratic and Republican parties and Bulgaria last year.

Fallon went on to warn of possible Kremlin interference in the forthcoming German elections as well as the disruption of elections in Montenegro and an upcoming Dutch referendum on an EU-Ukraine treaty.

The warning came hours before the release of a report by Parliament's spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, which agreed that government needs to raise its game in combatting cyber threats more generally, as previously reported.

In other news Wikileaks revealed this week it had 3,630 documents from its archives on French presidential candidate François Fillon, as well as 1,138 documents on far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. The whistle-blowing outfit was a key conduit for the release of material obtained from the hack of the DNC and Hilary Clinton aides during the US presidential elections.

Late last year US intelligence agencies publicly blamed units of Russian military intelligence (GRU) and state security (FSB) for the hacks and subsequent leaks, a theory supported by most private cybersecurity firms.

John Bambenek, threat intelligence manager at Fidelis Cybersecurity, commented: "Hacking of political figures in an attempt to influence elections is likely to be the new normal. The US presidential election showed the world that it's possible to attack large targets with relatively minimal resources and have a huge impact for which the victim state has no good response strategies. This latest move by Wikileaks may – but not necessarily – mean that it anticipates having more pertinent documents to release on these political figures in the coming weeks." ®

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