Microsoft has expressed confidence that the attacks targeting democratic European institutions between September and December 2018 were conducted by Strontium cyber-espionage group, also known as Fancy Bear and APT28, which is often associated by research community to Russian military intelligence agency (GRU). The attacks targeted democratic institutions, campaigns, think tanks and non-profit organizations in Europe whose work relates to democracy, electoral integrity, and public policy and that are often in contact with government officials. The spear-phishing attacks targeted 104 accounts belonging to organisations’ employees located in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, and Serbia.
Cyber-attacks can have a background in international relations, or bring about the consequences that can escalate to a political and diplomatic level. An increasing number of states appear to be developing their own cyber-tools for the defense, offence and intelligence related to cyberconflict.
The use of cyber-weapons by states - and, more generally, the behavior of states in cyberspace in relation to maintaining international peace and security - is moving to the top of the international agenda.