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Security chief says Russian hackers targeted UK

Russian hackers targeted media, telecom and energy companies in the U.K. over the last year, a top British intelligence expert said Wednesday.

Ciaran Martin, head of the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said he could “confirm that Russian interference, seen by the National Cyber Security Centre over the past year, has included attacks on the U.K. media, telecommunication and energy sectors”.

Martin’s comments on Russia followed Prime Minister Theresa May’s Monday speech, in which she accused the country of meddling in elections and fabricating fake news stories to destabilize Western democracies.

“I have a very simple message for Russia,” May said.

“We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us,” she added.

“Russia is seeking to undermine the international system. That much is clear. The PM made the point on Monday night – [the] international order as we know it is in danger of being eroded,” Martin added.

The recently voiced concerns about Russian influence in British politics came after a research suggested that more than 400 fake Twitter accounts believed to be run from St. Petersburg published posts about Brexit.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified 419 accounts operating from the Russian Internet Research Agency attempting to influence U.K. politics out of 2,752 accounts suspended by Twitter in the U.S., The Guardian reported.

One of such posts attempted to stir anti-Islamic sentiment during the Westminster Bridge terror attack in March when a bogus post claimed a Muslim woman ignored victims. The claim was picked up by various tabloids.

A leaked NCSC memo suggested in July the U.K. energy sector had been targeted by “state-sponsored actors”, without giving any country names.