Russian spies only need  a month to dupe someone online: report

Russian spies only need $3 a month to dupe someone online: report

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A computer on a Russian flag.
A computer on a Russian flag.

  • Russia has ramped up its information warfare, a new report reveals.
  • The Insider and German newspaper Der Spiegel found documents detailing an operation called Project Kylo.
  • The document estimated that it would cost Russian operatives $3 to manipulate one Western audience member.

Russia’s foreign intelligence agency SVR hatched plans that involved staging fake, anti-state protests, filming them, and then disseminating them — a sprawling operation aimed at discrediting Ukraine.

This is according to a new report by The Insider and the German newspaper Der Spiegel. The organizations’ joint investigation revealed the contents of a document obtained in a leak of SVR communications — detailing the ins and outs of Project Kylo, a 2022 strategic plan to spread misinformation about Ukraine in the West.

According to the report, one of the operations in Project Kylo would have cost the Russian spies around $3 a month to manipulate one Western internet user.

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A main pillar of this campaign involved faking protests, with no more than 100 people being paid around $108 each. The false protests were filmed for “subsequent media dissemination,” per the report.

The other part of the SVR’s intelligence operations involved generating fake German news sites that branded themselves as independent investigations agencies. The sites churned out articles harping on economic issues in Germany, like homelessness, while disseminating content under incendiary headlines like “How Ukrainians are robbing Germany of economic prosperity.”

“Waging network wars in EU cyberspace based on the increasing demands of Ukrainian migrants and the new waves of irritation of the local population provoked by this, according to preliminary estimates, will have a very high efficiency both now and in the foreseeable future,” the SVR strategy document read, per translations from The Insider and Der Spiegel.

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The leaked document further outlined how the “cognitive campaign” the Russians intended to run was centered on instilling in Western users “the strongest emotion in the human psyche — fear.”

“It is precisely the fear for the future, uncertainty about tomorrow, the inability to make long-term plans, the unclear fate of children and future generations,” the document read. “The cultivation of these triggers floods an individual’s subconscious with panic and terror.”

This leak of SVR documents is not the first time Russian operations in the West have been uncovered.

There have been multiple reports of Russian spies infiltrating the West, such as “Victor Muller,” a Russian military operative masquerading as a Brazilian student who sought an internship at the International Criminal Court in The Hague to steal intelligence.

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And the number of Russian spies in the West is now estimated to be at the highest it has been in decades.

Russian spy activities “are as high or even higher than during the Cold War,” a Western intelligence officer told The Financial Times in March.

German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported in April 2023 that Russian spies have used Tinder to target German politicians and soldiers in a bid to obtain intelligence related to the Ukraine war.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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