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Russia is planning cyberattacks on countries that support Ukraine, GCHQ director warns

Russia is looking to exploit the potential of its cyber arsenal by targeting countries that actively oppose its aggression in Ukraine, the head of GCHQ said.

Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, which is a British intelligence and security organization, told the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) CyberUK conference that concerns over Russian state-sponsored hackers furtherly escalating the conflict persist.

“We’ve seen indications that Russia’s cyber operatives continue to look for targets in countries that oppose their actions,” the GCHQ chief said.

Fleming did not specify which countries are of most interest to Russian hackers. Despite the concerns, he noted that fears of a full-scale cyber war between Russia and the United Kingdom were most likely greatly exaggerated.

“Perhaps, the concept of a ‘cyber war’ was over-hyped, but there’s plenty of cyber about including a range of activity we and partners have already attributed to Russia.”

Fleming furtherly stated that this war is characterized by vast amounts of information – both in the intelligence realm regarding the tactics of Russian forces and in the way it is being disseminated and accessed by regular Internet users.

“This is modern warfare influenced and shaped by the democratization of information. And thankfully, the Ukrainians are excelling at it - we’re proud to be playing our part in supporting their efforts.”

Going forward, the UK will focus on improving the levels of its cyber resilience and helping Ukraine in shoring up its cyber defenses. Already in 2021, the government’s Active Cyber Defence program was responsible for tackling 2.7 million online scams. As the technology continues to evolve, more opportunities will arise for states and individual users to better protect themselves online.

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