Information Warfare · Russia

SVR Tools On Social Networks

The SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, has been monitoring Western social networks.  This we already knew. 

Here we see an automated tool in the initial developmental stages.  Not for just monitoring, however. 

Notice there is a reference to a similar FSB program, but the SVR and the FSB do not share the technology. The non-sharing is stated clearly.  

“[M]eans of promoting specific information on social networks”.  Influencing.  Most likely this is the birth and progenisis of the “bots” which are active on Western social media today. 

Notice the date is August 2012, after Putin assumption of the Russian presidency – again.  

From RT: 

The systems were ordered in a three separate tenders and the official client’s name is Military Unit 54939, but Kommersant Daily newspaper, which broke the news, writes that according to its sources this military unit belongs to the Foreign Intelligence Service’s structure.

There are three parts: 

  1. Dispute: responsible for overall monitoring of the blogosphere and social networks in order to single out the centers where the information is created and the ways by which it is spread among the virtual society. It also looks at factors that affect the popularity of various reports among internet users.
  2. Monitor-3:  will develop the methods of organization and management of a “virtual community of attracted experts” – setting of tasks, control over work and regular reports on chosen issues.
  3. Storm-12: its task is to automatically spread the necessary information through the blogosphere, as well as “information support of operations with pre-prepared scenarios of influence on mass audience in social networks.”

Notice the parallels between this and the DARPA SMISC program, which preceded this by a little more than one year. 

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(Translated from Russian by my Chrome browser)

exploration bot

SVR will social networks


As the “Kommersant”, in January 2012, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) announced three closed tender worth over 30 million rubles, the purpose of which -. To develop new methods of monitoring the blogosphere. The main objective – “the mass distribution of information messages in a given social networks in order to create public opinion.” Sources “Kommersant” believe that in the future, these developments can also be applied to work in the Russian segment of the Internet.

SVR goes online

According to “Kommersant”, the tenders for studies with code designations “Storm 12”, “Monitor-3” and “Debate” were held in January-February 2012. As can be seen from the texts of the three competitive tasks available to the “b”, the state customer – PKU “military unit N54939” – sought to develop a program for the “study of intelligence methods of Internet centers and regional segments of social networks” (code “Dispute”) to 4 41 mln., “the study of covert methods of management in the Internet” (code “Monitor-3”) to RUR 4.99 million., as well as to conduct a research project to develop a “means of promoting specific information on social networks” (code “Storm-12”) to 22.8 million rubles.

Three works, though divided into different requirements are closely related to each other. It is planned that the first monitor the blogosphere is the system “Debate”, which should be engaged in “research processes of formation of online communities centers of information dissemination in social networks” and “the definition of the factors affecting the popularity and spread of information.” Then the information will be analyzed “Monitor-3” system. Its mission – to “the development of methods of organization and management of online virtual community of experts involved, providing for setting of tasks, control work in the social media and regularly receive information from experts in a given subject area.” On the basis of the data obtained to throw the right information in the social network will start the system “Storm 12”.

Its functional state customer ordered as follows: “the development of special software for automated information dissemination in the major social networks and the organization of information support for the activities of prepared scenarios on the impact of a given social networking a mass audience.” The document states that the purpose of this virtual army will be “mass dissemination of information messages in a given social networks using the existing user accounts, with the aim of forming public opinion”, “collection of statistics and analysis of the effectiveness of dissemination of information wave”, “suitability analysis of the most popular services social networking information to initiate waves of different thematic, social and other directions. “

According to “Kommersant”, to classify all three of the contest allowed that the basis for their conduct was closed by government decree N1116-36 23 December 2011 on the allocation of funds the state defense order for 2012. It is expected that the system “Monitor-3” and “Dispute” will be ready in 2012, and “Storm 12” – in 2013.

Sources “Kommersant” in the security services argue that a military unit N54939, which Alexander Bychkov commander acted as a customer for all three tenders, part of the SVR system. Request “b” in the intelligence community on this issue remained unanswered. However, this information was confirmed by two documents that are publicly available. The first – the application to the order of the Ministry of Communications on August 23, 1994: in the “list of companies and organizations that have received permission for the right to work on the protection of information” part of N54939 was listed as the management information of the SVR. The second, more recent document – a letter to the municipal order of the Moscow government control “On the benefits of paying for utility services for the recruitment of employees of foreign intelligence.” As of July 2011 the document states that the provision of benefits for servicemen and civilian personnel serving in the military unit N54939, certificates are accepted without affiliation on the basis of the federal law on the SVR.

Direct perpetrator in all three competitions was the company “Iteranet” (see. Certificate). Its CEO Igor Matskevich (last – first deputy head of the Institute of Cryptography, Telecommunications and Informatics of the FSB Academy) from the conversation with “b” evaded. He refused to answer and to written questions.

“B” the sides in the Russian special services do not exclude that after the SVR will receive “Storm 12” program at its disposal, “Monitor-3” and “Debate”, they can be used to influence both the external auditors and the inside. “Once the development is complete, begin preliminary tests that will prove the effectiveness of the system should be,” – says one of the “Kommersant” sources. On the question of which specific countries, these developments will be tested, the source “b” replied evasively: “In the first phase it may be in Eastern Europe, part of the Soviet Union.”

“The Internet has long attracted the attention of the security services, and, of course, not only the Russian, – said another source” b “.- Let me remind you that Russia offered on a statutory basis – under the auspices of the UN – prohibit States use the Internet to” undermine the political, economic and social systems other countries “, and to” manipulate the flow of information in the information space of other states, including misinformation “(on relevant initiatives” Kommersant “wrote, in particular, on April 27). However, our partners, first of all, Western, did not deem it necessary to listen to us. “

Boat internal use

Commenting on the possibility of new developments in the Russian social networks, the source of “Kommersant” noted that the practice of technology transfer between the SVR and the FSB is not commonly used, because it increases the risk of information leakage, but the caveat that in the event of such a necessary resource may be used in the needs of both departments, no government regulations for this purpose is not required, the problem is solved at the level of leadership of the two departments.

Interviewees “Y”, experts note that the SVR developed commissioned programs are universal in their application. “The text of the tender for a system of” Storm 12 “plain text says that millions of rubles in the security services are willing to spend on creating a system of stuffing through the pre-registered in the social media accounts of the main obstacle to the operation of the system are the protection of social networks from spam, -. Told” Kommersant ” Internet expert Anton Nosik.- Part of the money will be spent on the neutralization of these protections. “

I agree with him and another expert in the field of Internet technology, who asked not to be named. “Almost one hundred percent probability that the recipients,” customers “of these works of Russian social networks can become in the future, and their users, as well as foreign network like Facebook resources, Google+, the to technical control by Russian special services access there, but do external monitoring of events and activities, as well as to study the functionality of resources and seek holes in their defense to deal with the political opposition who are actively using foreign network resources, they are quite capable of “, – he says.

According to experts, these programs can be very effective, especially when it comes to the showdown rights administrators, fan newsletters or infected bot computers. “Even within several divisions of the former KGB – the current Russian FSB conducted scientific and practical work in all sorts of” social projects “, which just describe” close to the text “in the content of these tenders, but in relation to the internet and modern social networks – like on.- corresponding “scientific” centers – high-rise “candles” that are on Vernadsky Prospekt behind the building of Moscow State University and the subway “University. There were themes with spreading racial hatred and thereby reduce the combat capability of the US Armed Forces, with the introduction and subsequent provocation for the split of the Soviet dissident movement, to prevent the spread of unwanted information in the event of natural disasters and civil unrest, and, on the contrary, the spread of provision of false, but “useful” , the right information. “Safer Internet Center Coordinator Urvan Parfentev recalls that the first of Russia’s attempts to influence the situation in other countries via the Internet began to talk . Le history with the demolition of the Bronze Soldier monument in Tallinn in 2007, “Nothing is impossible to allocate and distribute information online viral, no, – said Mr. Parfentev.- As for the impact from the outside, then it is possible either always something to talk about the positive image of Russia, as does the channel Russia Today, or to react to certain information peaks when attention is focused on foreigners to Russia “According to experts, in such a situation can be a defensive strategy -. for example, after the war in South Hos etii [Ed. comment: South Ossetia] Russia had to spend a lot of time to debunk the image created by the Western media – or offensive. As an example, the expert cited the work of radio “Liberty” and “Voice of America” in the Soviet times, when they are constantly found some negative information occasions. “Just 30 years ago for the job using the radio, and now it was replaced by the Internet,” – concluded Mr. Parfentev.

Ilya Barabanov, Ivan Safronov, Elena Chernenko



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