Russia-linked APT groups leveraged the Lithuanian nation’s technology infrastructure to launch cyber-attacks against targets worldwide.
A report by Lithuania’s intelligence service says “Hacker groups linked to Russian intelligence conducted cyber-attacks against top Lithuanian officials and decision-makers last year and used the Baltic nation’s technology infrastructure as a base to hit targets elsewhere”.
The annual national security threat assessment report claimed that, among others, the Russian cyber-espionage group APT29 with alleged links to Russia’s intelligence services “exploited” Lithuania’s information technology infrastructure “to carry out attacks by APT29 against foreign entities developing a COVID-19 vaccine.”
In 2020, Russian intelligence operations against Lithuania decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Russia-linked APT groups increased cyber espionage campaigns against targets worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in Lithuania, a NATO member that is Russia’s neighbour and a former Soviet republic, decreased Russian intelligence operations against the country in 2020 and shifted the Kremlin’s efforts to cyber-espionage, according to the report produced by Lithuania’s State Security Department.
“Nevertheless, Russian intelligence operations pose a major threat to Lithuania’s national security,” State Security Department head Darius Jauniskis told Lithuanian lawmakers during the presentation of the report at the Parliament.
Jauniskis added that Moscow was using military and economic means and influencing by information “for the implementation of its political aims” in the Baltic nation of 2.8 million.
He blamed Russia for trying to use the pandemic as a way to create havoc in Lithuania, which he said had witnessed “dozens” of such “failed attempts” recently.
“Those activities were well-coordinated and fueled by anti-Western propaganda coming out from the Kremlin,” Jauniskis added.
The report states that both cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns have increased in Lithuania in the last 12 months. The security experts documented multiple hacking and disinformation campaigns, attributed to Russia-linked APT groups, that targeted Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia in the last year.
Estonia’s foreign intelligence agency published its annual report saying, “Russia is counting on the COVID-19 pandemic to weaken unity in the West, which would help Moscow gain a more prominent role in international affairs and allegedly lead to declining Western influence on the global stage”.