Kremlin 'ups cyber campaign against Britain'

A network of Russian trolls is behind a new disinformation campaign about who was responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria and Salisbury, a government source has said.

Social media bots are said to be responsible for a 4,000 percent increase in the spread of ‘lies and disinformation’ according to Whitehall research made public for the first time.

Government analysts say one Twitter account, called @Ian56789, posted around 100 propaganda posts a day during mid-April.

In total, it tweeted 1,300 messages between 7 April and 19 April 2018, reaching 23 million users.

Using the hashtag ‘#FalseFlag’, the account claimed that accusations of chemical weapons attacks in Syria had been falsified.

The account was eventually closed down.

British intelligence agencies fear that Moscow might launch a devastating cyber attack as revenge for the UK blaming Russia for the Salisbury poisoning.

The UK has blamed Russia for the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in Salisbury . Credit: PA

But expectations of a widespread cyber attack against UK infrastructure have so far failed to materialise.

Whitehall sources also believe that Britain’s involvement in air strikes in Syria might have also stoked Russia’s cyber offensive against the UK.

Last month the Government announced a security shake-up which heavily focused on the threat posed by Russia.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the Salisbury attack had underlined the need for the UK to make better use of its financial, cultural and diplomatic clout as well as military force to quash threats.