The Netherlands foils Russian hacker attack

In April of this year the Netherlands expelled four Russians who were allegedly involved in an attempt to hack the computer network of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague, the Ministry of Defence announced on Thursday. It suspects that the Russian intelligence agency GRU was behind the attack. How should Europe react to Russian cyber-attacks?

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Der Standard (AT) /

No more cosying up to Moscow

Against the background of the Russian cyberattack the Austrian government should end its policy of cosying up to Moscow posthaste, Der Standard demands:

“Today no Western country is safe from Putin's IT experts. This is also because cyber-security is the Achilles' heel of our networked society - and an opportunist strongman like Putin will exploit all his enemies' weaknesses. His people don't always go about this very skilfully. The attack on the OPCW was clearly aimed at wiping away the traces of the failed poison attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. What the cyber-attack on the German Bundestag in 2015 is supposed to achieve is less clear. At any rate Putin's lawless hacker strategy is leading his country into international isolation - and making the government in Vienna's willingness to conduct a dialogue with him look increasingly inappropriate.”

La Croix (FR) /

Cyber defence is everyone's business

The goal of cyber attacks is to destroy public trust in the democratic system, La Croix comments:

“The digital cosmos offers states and malicious groups numerous possibilities for attacking democracy using its own principles: openness, the freedom of expression and information. ... These battles demand new means of defence. To this end France has created a cyber force comprising several thousand employees, under the leadership of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. But the battle over public opinion also depends on how good democracies are at securing the population's backing. So it's also the job of civil society and the media to develop antibodies that can ensure collective resistance.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Down with the criminals in the Kremlin

Russia cannot be allowed to get off scot-free, De Telegraaf demands:

“The exposure of the Russian agents in The Hague is a crucial part of the West's reaction to the aggressive, reckless and shameless actions of President Putin's army of spies. The attempt to hack the OPCW is proof that the Russians think they can carry out attacks on other states' territory with impunity. Before this it was with the poison attack in Britain. ... Russia systematically violates international law, sacrifices people and then plays innocent. It's time tougher sanctions were imposed on the criminal gangs in the Kremlin.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Overstepping the bounds of conventional espionage

The Russian military intelligence agency GRU has taken espionage too far, writes Echo of Moscow's editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov:

“Cyber attacks are really just another way of gathering information. In former times diplomatic correspondence was copied or secret documents photographed with microfilm. ... But there is one basic difference: the one is theft of data, the other is destroying or modifying it, or even attempting murder. That's no longer espionage in the conventional sense, it's sabotage. It seems that sabotage - the attempt to murder Skripal, the meddling in elections with the goal of influencing the outcome, interference with the work of a chemical laboratory - is the reason why the Nato countries are reacting so fiercely in public.”

The Times (GB) /

Mess-ups putting Putin under pressure

The botched operations of the Russian intelligence agencies in the West show that these organisations are by no means as clever as they think they are, The Times gloats:

“The events of recent months have demonstrated - to the world but also to the Russian people - that the country's spies are not living up to their fearsome status. They are failing, visibly and spectacularly. … The exposure of the GRU's rank incompetence may be more than merely embarrassing for Putin. It could seriously undermine his hold on power. Russian intelligence is supposed, according to its own assiduously nurtured legend, to be invisible and ubiquitous, a master of disguise. In fact, it seems, the emperor has no clothes.”