UK journalist Misha Glenny is an expert on organised crime and cybersecurity and has written a number of books, including the hit title McMafia. He studied in Prague and did a lot of reporting from the city in the late 1980s, including during the Velvet Revolution. At present he also heads a committee guaranteeing the independence of editors and journalists at the Economia group, which publishes titles such as Hospodářské noviny and Respekt. Czech Radio’s Lenka Kabrhelová sat down with Misha Glenny recently and began by asking him about the nature
This week’s release of the Czech Security Information Service’s (BIS) annual report was widely covered by Czech media and even some foreign outlets. What stood out was the considerable amount of detail that the public version contained on Russian and Chinese spying operations in the country last year. So what are these two states up to? And what are their reasons?
The Russian Embassy in Prague has denied that the information provided
earlier on Monday by Czech civilian counterintelligence (BIS) Director
Michal Koudelka, who said that Czech security organs had uncovered and
broken up an FSB intelligence operation in the country, is in any part
The intelligence chief described the embassy as one of the sources of funding for a Russian operation in the country, which used a web of servers to attack targets in the Czech Republic and its allies.
Last year the Czech authorities broke up a Russian spy network operating in the country, the head of the BIS counter-intelligence service, Michal Koudelka, told MPs on Monday. The FSB spy ring – financed directly by Moscow and the Russian Embassy – was uncovered by BIS and the Czech Republic’s national organised crime unit. I discussed the revelation with former Czech Military Intelligence chief Andor Šándor.
Working in tandem with the National Centre for Combating Organised Crime,
the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) uncovered and broke an
intelligence network run by Russia’s FSB in the Czech Republic, BIS
director Michal Koudelka told members of the lower house at a security
conference on Monday. According to Colonel Koudelka the network was
financed through Russian funds and its aim was to attack targets in the
Czech Republic as well as neighbouring states through a variety of servers,
which were part of a wider network used by the FSB.
Colonel Koudelka also warned parliamentarians about the threat of right-wing extremism in the country, saying that an anti-Muslim attack could lead to the radicalisation of the local Muslim community and increase the danger of Islamic terrorist attacks in the country, which the BIS sees as the most short-term security threat to the country.
Currently, there are no indications of a direct terrorist threat to the country, according to the BIS chief.
The National Cyber and Information Security Agency is underfunded and is
therefore unable to recruit enough security experts to handle its workload,
the daily Hospodářské Noviny reported on Thursday. The paper cited the
head of the organisation Dušan Navrátil as saying it was not even able to
compete with the municipal police with its salaries. Mr. Navrátil also
said that the largest problem the cyber watchdog is currently facing is
outdated computer systems. However, according to Finance Minister Alena
Schillerová, the agency has not spent over CZK 100 million allocated to it
since its creation in 2017.
The news comes a day after the National Cyber and Information Security Agency published a report in which it said that 90 percent of cyber-attacks in 2018 come from outside the country and that most threat actors are linked to Russia and China.
The head of the National Cyber and Information Security Service (NÚKIB)
has denied that his agency shared its findings on a recent cyberattack
against the Foreign Ministry with the Senate Committee for Defence and
Last week that committee said a “foreign state power” had hacked into the ministry’s computer network, citing information from the NÚKIB, and called for more resources to be allocated to cyber security.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) at the weekend had criticized the agency for informing the Senate of the situation but no members of the government. At a National Security Council meeting on Monday, NÚKIB director Dušan Navrátil denied that was the case.
A group of former high-ranking state officials say a recent cyber-attack on
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs underscores the need to bolster state
security measures, which will require adopting new legislation.
Unlike other Nato allies, the Czech Republic has not done enough to build a cyber defence system, the group said in a statement on Wednesday. They warn that vital cyber-infrastructure, including in financial, energy, transport, healthcare sectors, is insufficiently protected.
Among the signatories to the statement are General Petr Pavel, who served as Chairman of the Nato Military Committee, former deputy defence minister Daniel Koštoval, and diplomat Petr Kolář, a former ambassador to Russia and the United States.
An attack on the computers of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs was
most likely carried out by another state, according to the National Cyber
and Information Security Service. The agency informed the Senate’s
Committee for Defence and Security of its findings and on Tuesday committee
members called on the government to ensure that the National Cyber and
Information Security Service devoted all the necessary attention and
resources to the issue.
Deník N reported that a cyber-attack on the Czech Foreign Ministry carried out in June was most probably the work of Russia’s military intelligence service, the GRU. The news website said this had been confirmed to it by a number of very well placed sources.
International terrorism, growing cyber threats and right-wing extremism are
the main challenges the Czech counterintelligence service BIS will have to
face in the immediate future, its head Michal Koudelka said in an interview
for the CTK news agency, on the occasion of the service’s 25th
He said the service was also having to counter the growing activities of foreign agents in the country. In recent years the service has reported on a growing number of Russian and Chinese agents in the country.
The head of the Czech counterintelligence service received a top award from America’s CIA earlier this year. He said the George Tenet Award, which recognises international cooperation, was a tribute to the work of the whole counterintelligence service.