Anfang Juni war beim Berliner Think Tank „Stiftung für neue Verantwortung“ der Moskauer Journalist und Geheimdienst-Experte Andrei Soldatov zu Gast und gewährte – neben vielen weiteren Themen – sehr interessante Einblicke in die russische, mutmaßlich staatlich gelenkte Hacker-Szene. Das ganze, sehr lesenswerte Interview gibt es hier als Transkript.
Die Einsichten und Analysen von Andrei Soldatov sind insbesondere vor dem Hintergrund interessant, dass Russland nach Vorfällen im Cyberspace wie den Attacken auf die ukrainische Stromversorgung, die US-Wahl oder – vor vielen Jahren – auf Estland stets eine staatliche Beteiligung abstritt. Stattdessen spielen im Land patriotische Kräfte scheinbar eine große Rolle, insbesondere vor dem Hintergrund, dass erst mit der auch im russischen Militär der Cyberspace bis vor wenigen Jahren keine besondere Rolle gespielt hat und das Feld vorwiegend dem Inlandsgeheimdienst FSB überlassen wurde. Soldatov unterstreicht diese Aussagen, macht aber auch deutlich, wie fließend die Grenzen zwischen patriotischen zivilen Hackern und staatlicher Lenkung durch Nachrichtendienste sind. Nachfolgend die interessantesten Aussagen von Soldatov im Interview zu diesen Themen.
Befragt nach der historischen Entwicklung der russischen quasi-staatlichen Hacker und der Priorität die der Cyberspace für russische Nachrichtendienste hat, verweist Soldatov auf den zweiten Tschetschenienkrieg:
But when we got the war, the second Chechen war, we got all these websites launched by Chechen rebels, all of a sudden it was quite clear that there was no one who can fight and take down these websites. The Russian foreign ministry sent some requests to Western countries where these websites were hosted. The answer was no, and all of a sudden, we got students in Tomsk, once again the Technical University of Tomsk is quite famous, and these students were so outraged that they attacked some of these websites by their own and that was a trick. The local department of the FSB seized the opportunity and immediately issued a statement, to the effect that this people did nothing criminal, they were doing their patriotic duty. So actually they encouraged that. That was the moment when the Kremlin found this thing that you can encourage some people doing something amd you can always deny a responsibility because these people have nothing to do with the government — they’re students. Of course, over the years it became clear that this is now not only about students, it’s also about people who have some affiliation with the government. Some of them were paid directly, indirectly but the Kremlin always has tried to maintain some distance.
Hinsichtlich dieser seit damals gewachsenen Rolle der patriotischen Hacker, deren Rückdeckung und mutmaßliche Beeinflussung durch die russische Regierung kommt Soldatov zu folgendem Schluss:
(..) So these people were working for the government but they were not part of the government. That was a trick, the Kremlin said it’s not about us, it’s about some people outraged by Estonia, by Lithuania, by Georgia, maybe by United States but it’s not about the government agency. Exactly the same line was maintained last year with the US election. The very first comment made by Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in June when he was asked about these fundings that Russian hackers were in the system of the Democratic National Committee — he said “I completely rule out that any government organizations could do this.” I think it’s really telling that he said it’s about government organizations. He tried to make his point that it’s not about the government. This might be about Russia hackers but it’s not about us.
It is a developing story and it has different stages. It looks like we can define these things at least in two stages. The first stage is what we got from 1999 to 2014. At this stage, we are talking mostly about people, let’s say at the administration of the President, and some intermediary — it could be some pro-Kremlin youth movement. There were some criminal hackers doing a real job but back then at this first stage, criminal hackers, they tried to give some distance, so they tried to not to talk directly to the FSB out of fear to be one day exposed. (..) But it looks like in 2014, mostly because of the annexation of Crimea, we are coming to the second and this stage, is slightly or maybe not slightly different. (..) Now we got closer cooperation, not only between criminal hackers and the security services and we have proof of these, because of for example the recent investigation of attack o Yahoo when we see there the FSB officers. They were working directly with criminal hackers but also we got a closer cooperation between say government agencies, not only security agencies but government agencies and the IT industry. It looks like we got this climate of fear and mobilization in the country because in 2014 it was crazy in Moscow because everybody should be United against an enemy, you need to be working for the country and everybody understand it. Lots of people got the point. The IT industry found itself in a situation that if they were approached by the government and asked to do something sensitive there is no way to say no
Mittlerweile haben sich die Beziehungen und der Bedarf des Nachrichtendienstes aber dahingehend professionalisiert, dass auch Unternehmen für diese Dienste in Anspruch genommen werden:
So we got some companies, literally approached by some ministries, by some officials and ask them to, for example to help to do DDoS attacks.
Über die Rolle und Bedeutung des Cyberspace im russischen Militär und dem Verhältnis zwischen den Regierungsdiensten in dieser Domäne betont Soldatov die absolute Dominanz des FSB und die bislang eher schleppend wahrgenommene militärische Bedeutung:
But what we need to remember about the Russian military, that for many years, almost for 22 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, quite unlike say Western countries, the Russian military were almost completely banned from cyber in Russia. It was all for the secret services. The security services controlled everything. They had a monopoly on cyber, not only they had capacities and they had budgets they also defined the rules. The military for years, they tried to find a way how to get into this field and the FSB was not very happy with that. For example, in 2010 when the military just said, “Maybe…we need to launch something to deal with cyber,” immediately the FSB issued a public statement to the effect that the military had to mind their business, they didn’t not know what they were talking about. So we got the military involved in cyber relatively late. Only 2013-2014. (..)
The FSB, which still have the biggest cyber capacities, they are absolutely silent, they never talk about these things. The military, on the contrary, they love to publicize themselves because they try to secure the ground. But we should not be misguided by these statements. Still the FSB is the biggest player in this field.
Wie gesagt, das sehr lesenswerte Interview gibt es hier als Transkript inklusive der Publikumsfragen. Die hier veröffentlichten Zitat wurden mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Stiftung Neue Verantwortung abgedruckt.