Alleged Russian Hackers Overtook UK-Based Islam Channel in 2015 - Reports

Alleged Russian Hackers Overtook UK-Based Islam Channel in 2015 - Reports © Flickr /

A report surfaced on Friday alleging that purported Russian hackers took "complete control" of a small TV station in the UK three years ago; this adds fuel to a controversy sparked by hacking accusations from the UK, the US, and the Netherlands against Russia.

In 2015, alleged Russian agents affiliated with the military intelligence service GRU hacked the Islam Channel, a UK-based Islam-focused TV station, Financial Times claims, citing a spokesperson for the broadcaster.

The channel's senior executives had been unaware of the attack until they were contacted by the Home Office. "They (the Home Office) then put us in touch with another agency, which informed us there was a cyberattack on our IT infrastructure."

The unnamed agency reportedly told the Islam Channel that the attack had been carried out at the "state level." It then took the broadcaster "a good few months" to tackle the effects of the alleged attack whose reasons remain unclear.

"They had complete control," the spokesperson said. "They could see everything we were doing. For many weeks, we couldn't send or receive emails. We felt powerless."

The comments came on the heels of fresh hacking accusations against Russia from Western countries, which Moscow dismissed as "spy mania." On Thursday, the US Justice Department announced charges against seven alleged Russian military intelligence officials it accused of hacking doping agencies and other international organizations, including WADA, the OPCW, USADA, Westinghouse nuclear power company, and a Swiss lab that was analyzing a toxic substance which was allegedly used in the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury.

Also on Thursday, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country's intelligence had thwarted a hacking attack on the OPCW, the international chemical weapons watchdog, which was, allegedly, to be carried out by four Russian citizens.  According to Dutch Defense Minister Ank Biljeveld, they had been expelled from the Netherlands; she also claimed that they were GRU operatives who purportedly had diplomatic passports.

Hours before the Dutch statement, Britain's National Cyber Security Centre released details of six attacks they attributed to the GRU, including an attack that targeted a small TV network in the UK. Following the disclosure, Russia's Embassy in the UK urged British authorities to immediately provide information on Moscow's purported attempts to conduct cyberattacks against London.