Russia’s security service has been given a special status to monitor and manage cyberattacks on the country’s infrastructure, and its intelligence services are also being asked to share information with foreign governments, a senior official has told Mashable.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) is tasked with protecting the country from foreign threats, but it has also been asked to take part in international cybercrime investigations.
It also has to take care of sensitive data, and conduct regular inspections of critical infrastructure, such as power grids and nuclear power plants.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously suggested that the security services should have the ability to share intelligence and data with foreign powers.
“In the event of a foreign power’s use of cyber-security capabilities against our national security, the FSB will also be responsible for protecting the Russian state, the Russian Federation and its citizens from those attacks,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement on Friday.
“The security services of the country will have the right to share this information with the security service of a neighbouring country.
This will be a special branch, with a special role.”
The FSB is currently responsible for security and intelligence gathering at the borders, where they will be able to access information from other countries and agencies.
But the agency also has an operational role in a number of foreign countries, including the United States, Australia and Canada, as well as in NATO member states.
Ryabkov stressed that the FSS would not be tasked with “acting as a central authority” over other agencies or countries.
He also said that the agency was only asked to cooperate with foreign security agencies when the FSOs activities could be “consulted and monitored by them.”
The Kremlin has repeatedly called for the FSU to share sensitive information with its foreign counterparts, including in the case of a breach at Russia’s nuclear power station in Sakhalin, where the US has previously said it was likely to breach, according to a report by The New York Times.
But Ryabsov said that sharing data with other countries was part of a “state policy,” and that the service was not meant to be a central agency responsible for maintaining a complete list of information shared with other nations.
“It is not a matter of if, but when, we will receive information from the FSM about a potential foreign state that may be interested in the information,” he said.
The FSS also oversees the FCO, which is charged with providing intelligence and technical support to foreign governments and their citizens, according the FSN.
But it was unclear how often the FSB and FCO met with foreign counterparts in the event they needed to discuss an attack.
Ahead of the presidential elections in October, Ryabov told journalists that Russia’s FSB would not work with foreign intelligence services in the absence of “a clear national interest” in protecting the nation’s security.
“This is not an exception, this is a rule.
The fact is that there is a clear national security interest of the FTSB, the national security service, which should be given its own role, and we should not be interfering in their activities,” Ryabovsky said.”
I think we need to talk about this very clearly and the way that we can ensure that the information that the national intelligence agencies share is not used for a specific purpose.
The Russian government should have a responsibility to protect itself.”
Masha Gessen contributed reporting.