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2020.03.25 17:11

Russian intelligence targeting Lithuania's communication networks – President Nausėda

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS2020.03.25 17:11

As workflow moved online due to the pandemic, Russian intelligence services have been focusing on Lithuania's communications networks, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said on Wednesday.

“We are now monitoring elevated activity of Russian intelligence institutions," Nausėda told reporters after meeting Darius Jauniškis, the director of the State Security Department.

Read more: Coronavirus disinformation takes hold of diaspora

"As possibilities for physical intelligence gathering are considerably limited due to restrictions on physical contacts, everything moves into the electronic space, and probably the change in our working regime and remote communication are making our networks vulnerable,” he said.

“I could not say the level of that activity is high, but there are attempts of preparatory nature,” added Nausėda.

The president also noted recent disinformation campaigns in Lithuania.

The European Union's diplomatic service warned earlier this week that Russia's state-controlled media was waging a disinformation campaign in the West, seeking to escalate the coronavirus crisis and undermine public trust in the health system.

Several news websites in Lithuania have been hacked this year to post a fake story alleging that a US military officer had contracted the coronavirus in Lithuania.

Meanwhile, Lithuania's intelligence services have noticed increased attempts to undermine public trust in decisions by Lithuanian government institutions, according Jauniškis from the State Security Department.

“I believe we must monitor the space very closely and register all those negative statements or attempts to influence our public and make it doubt the state, decisions made by the government and the president,” Jauniškis said.

“We should not rule out the possibility there might be more cyber attacks and informational attacks like these. When this whole crisis stabilises, there will be attempts to affect our state through information. We are registering, watching, analysing and preparing our response,” he said.

Hostile intelligence services were also adapting to new conditions, as restriction on international travel have reduced possibilities for physical intelligence gathering, said Jauniškis.