Red faces in Moscow this weekend, with the news that hackers have successfully targeted FSB—Russia’s Federal Security Service. The hackers managed to steal 7.5 terabytes of data from a major contractor, exposing secret FSB projects to de-anonymize Tor browsing, scrape social media, and help the state split its internet off from the rest of the world. The data was passed to mainstream media outlets for publishing.
FSB is Russia’s primary security agency with parallels with the FBI and MI5, but its remit stretches beyond domestic intelligence to include electronic surveillance overseas and significant intelligence-gathering oversight. It is the primary successor agency to the infamous KGB, reporting directly to Russia’s president.
A week ago, on July 13, a hacking group under the name 0v1ru$ that had reportedly breached SyTech, a major FSB contractor working on a range of live and exploratory internet projects, left a smiling Yoba Face on SyTech’s homepage alongside pictures purporting to showcase the breach. 0v1ru$ had passed the data itself to the larger hacking group Digital Revolution, which shared the files with various media outlets and the headlines with Twitter—taunting FSB that the agency should maybe rename one of its breached activities “Project Collander.”
BBC Russia broke the news that 0v1ru$ had breached SyTech’s servers and shared details of contentious cyber projects, projects that included social media scraping (including Facebook and LinkedIn), targeted collection and the “de-anonymization of users of the Tor browser.” The BBC described the breach as possibly “the largest data leak in the history of Russian intelligence services.”
As well as defacing SyTech’s homepage with the Yoba Face, 0v1ru$ also detailed the project names exposed: “Arion”, “Relation”, “Hryvnia,” alongside the names of the SyTech project managers. The BBC report claims that no actual state secrets were exposed.
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