Putin promises to bolster Russia's IT security in face of cyber attacks


FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia May 9, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) -President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that the number of cyber attacks on Russia by foreign "state structures" had increased several times over and that Russia must bolster its cyber defences by reducing the use of foreign software and hardware.

The websites of many state-owned companies and news websites have suffered sporadic hacking attempts since Russia sent its armed forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24, often to show information that is at odds with Moscow's official line on the conflict.

"Targeted attempts are being made to disable the internet resources of Russia's critical information infrastructure," Putin said, adding that media and financial institutions had been targeted.

"Serious attacks have been launched against the official sites of government agencies. Attempts to illegally penetrate the corporate networks of leading Russian companies are much more frequent as well," he said.

In a meeting with the Security Council, Putin said that Russia would need to improve information security in key sectors and switch to using domestic technology and equipment.

"Restrictions on foreign IT, software and products have become one of the tools of sanctions pressure on Russia," Putin said. "A number of Western suppliers have unilaterally stopped technical support of their equipment in Russia."

He said cases of programmes getting blocked after being updated were becoming more frequent.

DATA LEAKS

State communications regulator Roskomnadzor on Wednesday said it had blocked a website that was hosting the personal data of a number of companies' clients. It did not name the companies.

Russia's second-biggest bank VTB was quoted by media as saying some customers' phone numbers had been leaked but there was no risk to their funds.

E-commerce player Wildberries and online marketplace Avito denied reports in Russian media that their data had been leaked.

A data leak in early March exposed the personal details of more than 58,000 people on tech giant Yandex's food delivery app, Yandex.Eda.

Yandex.Eda competitor Delivery Club on Friday apologised to users after it suffered a data leak on orders placed by users.

"The data includes information about orders and does not affect bank details. We are doing our best to prevent the dissemination of the data," TASS news agency quoted the company as saying.

Hacking attacks this month kept video-hosting site RuTube offline for three days and altered satellite television menus in Moscow on Victory Day, when Russia celebrated the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany.

Moscow has long sought to improve its domestic internet infrastructure, even disconnecting itself from the global internet during tests last summer.

However, the unprecedented Western barrage of sanctions imposed in response to Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine has increased the pressure to make Russia's IT systems more resilient.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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