Russian intelligence forces hacked into the networks of hundreds of Western and Asian companies in order to steal intellectual property for economic gain, claimed a report by a U.S. cyber security firm CrowdStrike, with energy and technology companies among the major targets.
CrowdStrike chief technology officer Dmitri Alperovitch told Reuters on Tuesday that his company had been tracing the activities of a Russian-based hacking group called the "Energetic Bear”, which were working on behalf of the Russian government to steal corporate secrets. "
Victims included energy companies, defence contractors, technology companies and government agencies from more than 23 countries, according to the CrowdStrike report.
Alperovitch explained to Mashable that CrowdStrike's investigation, which spanned over two years, saw increased activity from the hackers during the same business hours as Russian government employees.
But the biggest tip-off was that the organisations targeted were also "consistent with likely strategic interests of a Russia-based adversary.”
They were chasing after intellectual property, trade secrets and data that could potentially help Russia in its diplomatic operations involving energy resources, said Adam Meyers, CrowdStrike’s vice president of intelligence.
CrowdStrike refused to provide further details, since the investigation is still ongoing and the company maintains confidentiality agreements with some victims of the attack.
However Alperovitch did reveal that the hackers' techniques were sophisticated, pulling out technical indicators, as well as analysis of the targets chosen and the data stolen.
Meyers added, “this was really one of the first evident cases of Russian activity we've seen in a long time.”
Officials with the Russian Interior Ministry could not be reached for comment early on Wednesday in Moscow.