In the wake of cyberattacks targeting the recently held German elections, the European Union has blamed Russia for an ongoing disinformation campaign called “Ghostwriter.” Germany is the latest target in an effort that for years has tried to discredit NATO, and which has both smeared and cyberattacked Parliament members, other politicians and government officials, and journalists.
It’s not the first time the campaign has been attributed to Russia, but on Friday, the EU Council made the link official. From the press release:
“These malicious cyber-activities are targeting numerous members of Parliaments, government officials, politicians, and members of the press and civil society in the EU by accessing computer systems and personal accounts and stealing data.
“Such activities are unacceptable as they seek to threaten our integrity and security, democratic values and principles, and the core functioning of our democracies.” —EU Council’s Sept. 24 press release.
The Council noted that the actions attributed to Ghostwriter operators – actions that have included attempts to steal login credentials of German lawmakers to pull off identity theft before the Sept. 26 federal election, as well as a spearphishing attack that targeted multiple German Parliament members – run counter to what’s expected from a responsible state:
“These activities are contrary to the norms of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace as endorsed by all UN Member States, and attempt to undermine our democratic institutions and processes, including by enabling disinformation and information manipulation,” according to the press release.
“The European Union and its Member States strongly denounce these malicious cyber-activities, which all involved must put to an end immediately,” the release continued. “We urge the Russian Federation to adhere to the norms of responsible state behavior in cyberspace.”
It's not the first time that the disinformation/spearphishing campaign, which originally smeared NATO, has been linked to Russia.
Sasse said that the German government has “reliable information” that’s led it to conclude that Ghostwriter’s activities are tied “to cyber-actors of the Russian state and, specifically, Russia’s GRU military intelligence service,” referring to the General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) arm of Russia’s military intelligence.