UK spy chief says Putin is losing information war in Ukraine -The Economist


FILE PHOTO: GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming delivers a speech as he meets with Britain's Queen Elizabeth during her visit at the Watergate House to mark the centenary of the GCHQ (Government Communications Head Quarters) in London, Britain, February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool

(Reuters) - Russia has failed to gain ground in cyberspace against Ukraine almost six months after its invasion of the country, the head of Britain's GCHQ intelligence service said on Friday.

Jeremy Fleming, the intelligence head, in an op-ed in The Economist, wrote that both countries have been using their cyber capabilities in the war in Ukraine.

"So far, president Putin has comprehensively lost the information war in Ukraine and in the West. Although that's cause for celebration, we should not underestimate how Russian disinformation is playing out elsewhere in the world," Fleming wrote.

"Just as with its land invasion, Russia's initial online plans appear to have fallen short. The country's use of offensive cyber tools has been irresponsible and indiscriminate."

Fleming said Russia had deployed WhisperGate malware to destroy and deface Ukrainian government systems.

He also said Russia has used the same playbook before on Syria and the Balkans and said online disinformation is a major part of Russia's strategy. However, the GCHQ has been able to intercept and to provide warnings in time, he said.

Without going into much detail, Fleming said the UK's National Cyber Force could respond to Russia by deploying a UK military unit that employs offensive cyber tools.

(Reporting by Rachna Dhanrajani in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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