Content, Americas, EMEA

Report: Russia Pushes Coronavirus Disinformation Campaign

Russian cyber operatives linked to the Kremlin are reportedly swarming countries in the West tormented by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic with a large scale disinformation campaign to worsen the crisis, a new report said.

Internal documents from the EU’s External Action Service (EEAS) warned that false information was coming from many sources but the Russians, in particular, had stepped up their efforts to rattle countries struggling to contain the contagion, a spokesperson said, as Reuters reported based on seeing the EEAS information.

Russia COVID-19 Disinformation Campaign Targets EU

Russian cyber pushers are using tactics designed to undermine the EU’s efforts to disseminate factual information on the Covid-19 pandemic, Reuters said. The messaging offensive is reportedly being conducted in multiple languages.

“With the spread of Covid-19 we have seen a flurry of info, myths and disinformation about it--they are coming from various sources, not only from one, although disinformation efforts coming from Russia, linked to Russia or to clearly pro-Kremlin outlets have noticeably picked up,” the spokesperson said. The EU has uncovered some 80 Russian-generated cases of disinformation about the coronavirus since mid-January, Reuters reported.

The Kremlin has reportedly denied any involvement.

Russia COVID-19 Disinformation Campaign Targets EU

The European Commission is “aware of an increasing number of false information about the Covid-19 outbreak appearing in public discourse," the spokesperson told The Hill. "We are concerned that some of them can lead to public harm...or abuse the situation for material gain...” The EU is proactively removing factually incorrect or misleading content and seeking to promote “authoritative content,” he said.

The European report comes in the wake of a new U.S. federal report that found the nation lacks a centralized infrastructure and modernized approach to nullify cybersecurity threats posed by foreign adversaries. Although the country’s cybersecurity leaders have banked on deterrence and threatened sanctions to discourage cyber offensives, for the most part that strategy has not succeeded in batting away China’s and Russia’s forays.

“Today most cyber actors feel undeterred, if not emboldened, to target our personal data and public infrastructure,” a report produced by the bi-partisan Cyberspace Solarium Commission said. “In other words, through our inability or unwillingness to identify and punish our cyber adversaries, we are signaling that interfering in American elections or stealing billions in U.S. intellectual property is acceptable. The federal government and the private sector must defend themselves and strike back with speed and agility.”

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.