A U.S. cybersecurity firm says it has gathered evidence that the Russian government spied on hundreds of American, European and Asian companies, the first time Moscow has been linked to cyber attacks for alleged economic - rather than political - gains.
According to the firm, CrowdStrike, the victims of the previously unreported cyber espionage campaign include energy and technology firms, some of which have lost valuable intellectual property.
CrowdStrike declined to go into detail about those losses or to name any victims, citing confidentiality agreements related to its investigation.
Officials with the Russian Interior Ministry could not be reached for comment early on Wednesday in Moscow.
"These attacks appear to have been motivated by the Russian government's interest in helping its industry maintain competitiveness in key areas of national importance," Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, told Reuters on Tuesday evening.
Cybersecurity researchers have in the past said that China's government was behind cyber espionage campaigns against various corporations dating back as far as 2005, but China has vehemently denied those allegations. Alperovitch said this is the first time the Russian government has been linked to cyber intrusions on companies.