The Russian Federal News Agency (FAN), which is believed to be connected to Yevgeny “Putin’s Chef” Prigozhin, has published its response to a reported US military cyberattack against the Internet Research Agency (IRA, a.k.a. the “Troll Factory”) on US Congress election day. The FAN claims the Americans were “unprofessional” and that their attempts were “unproductive”.
The Russian propagandists say that there is “neither official confirmation nor any other reasons” to believe that the IRA and FAN are connected to Prigozhin as asserted by western media. They claim that they do not interfere in elections or engage in any illegal activities, and yet regularly find themselves subject to information and cyberattacks. Furthermore, they say that they have received threats in broken Russian from African cellphone numbers and through emails. For this reason, the attack in November last year did not surprise them, although the method used to penetrate the office’s local network differed from previous attacks. They believe the US military was behind the attack.
The US was supposedly trying to “utilize the budget increase” and avenge itself for the FAN’s involvement in US elections and their “unflattering comments” about their legitimacy. However, the FAN claims that the attacks were “futile”, and that the editorial staff and daughter project USAReally were able to continue operating as normal.
The propagandists claim that one of them received an email which unleashed a Trojan virus on the editorial system when opened, a type of attack which “can hardly be considered a special operation”.
After the supposed failure to shut down the USAReally website, the FBI had to get involved, the Russians claim. USAReally’s director-in-chief, the Russian citizen Alexander Malkevich, was arrested at an American airport on 8 November 2018. A search of his devices failed to reveal any secret information.
“Later, attempts were made to stop the site from operating by revoking the HTTPS certificate issued for the usareally.com domain,” the article states.
However, the attacks were unable to stop the site from operating for a single day. Its director-in-chief was placed under US sanctions in December last year, possibly in order to limit the project’s ability to make progress in US territory.
Previously, The Washington Post reported that the US military had carried out a cyber operation against the Russian Troll Factory (IRA) on the day of Congress elections and successfully disconnected it from the internet.