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British Visa Process May Have Been Compromised Due To Russian Infiltration

Bellingcat and The Insider quickly exposed the agents' real names.

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Police officers stand outside the City Stay Hotel used by two suspected Russian military intelligence agents — who have been accused of attempting to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia — in London, Britain. VOA

Investigative group Bellingcat and Russian website The Insider are suggesting that Russian intelligence has infiltrated the computer infrastructure of a company that processes British visa applications.

The investigation, published Friday, aims to show how two suspected Russian military intelligence agents, who have been charged with poisoning a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury, may have obtained British visas.

The Insider and Bellingcat said they interviewed the former chief technical officer of a company that processes visa applications for several consulates in Moscow, including that of Britain.

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The Internet Research Agency building, dubbed the Russian troll factory, is seen at Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg, Russia. VOA

The man, who fled Russia last year and applied for asylum in the United States, said he had been coerced to work with agents of the main Russian intelligence agency FSB, who revealed to him that they had access to the British visa center’s CCTV cameras and had a diagram of the center’s computer network. The two outlets say they have obtained the man’s deposition to the U.S. authorities but have decided against publishing the man’s name, for his own safety.

The Insider and Bellingcat, however, did not demonstrate a clear link between the alleged efforts of Russian intelligence to penetrate the visa processing system and Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga, who have been charged with poisoning Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March this year.

The man also said that FSB officers told him in spring 2016 that they were going to send two people to Britain and asked for his assistance with the visa applications. The timing points to the first reported trip to Britain of the two men, who traveled under the names of Alexander Petrov and Anatoly Boshirov. The man, however, said he told the FSB that there was no way he could influence the decision-making on visa applications.

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British Columbia is willing to hire numerous skilled personnel for their technical industry. Pexels

The man said he was coerced to sign an agreement to collaborate with the FSB after one of its officers threatened to jail his mother, and was asked to create a “backdoor” to the computer network. He said he sabotaged those efforts before he fled Russia in early 2017.

Also Read: Heavy Cyber Attacks From Russia, US, China In India

In September, British intelligence released surveillance images of the agents of Russian military intelligence GRU accused of the March nerve agent attack on double agent Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. Bellingcat and The Insider quickly exposed the agents’ real names and the media, including The Associated Press, were able to corroborate their real identities.

The visa application processing company, TLSContact, and the British Home Office were not immediately available for comment. (VOA)

Next Story

Students who Use Internet Excessively Likely to be Anxious During Tests: Study

Excessive internet use reduces study skills in students

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Students reporting more internet addiction also found it harder to organise their learning productively, and were more anxious about their upcoming tests. Pixabay

Students who use digital technology excessively are less motivated to engage with their studies, and are more anxious about exam tests, according to a new research.

This effect was made worse by the increased feelings of loneliness that use of digital technology produced, said the study, published in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.

“The results suggest that students with high levels of internet addiction may be particularly at risk from lower motivations to study, and, hence, lower actual academic performance,” said study researcher Phil Reed from Swansea University in UK.

For the findings, 285 university students, enrolled on a range of health-related degree courses, participated in the study. They were assessed for their use of digital technology, their study skills and motivation, anxiety, and loneliness.

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Students who use digital technology excessively are less motivated to engage with their studies. Pixabay

The research found a negative relationship between internet addiction and motivation to study. Students reporting more internet addiction also found it harder to organise their learning productively, and were more anxious about their upcoming tests.

The findings also found that internet addiction was associated with loneliness, and that this loneliness made study harder.

About 25 per cent of the students reported that they spent over four hours a day online, with the rest indicating that they spent between one to three hours a day.

The main uses of the internet for the student sample were social networking (40 per cent) and information seeking (30 per cent), the researchers said.

In addition to the links between levels of internet addiction and poor study motivation and ability, internet addiction was found to be associated with increased loneliness.

The results indicated that loneliness, in turn, made studying harder for the students.

The study suggests that loneliness plays a large role in positive feelings about academic life in higher education.

Also Read- 5 Health Tests That Women Should Undergo

According to the researchers, the poorer social interactions that are known to be associated with internet addiction make loneliness worse, and, in turn, impact on motivation to engage in a highly social educational environment such as a university. (IANS)