British, Australian, and Dutch officials accuse Russian intelligence of ‘brazen’ cybercrimes

Marsha Scott
October 5, 2018

The US Justice Department indicted seven agents of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency as part of a joint crackdown with allies Britain and the Netherlands on a series of major hacking plots attributed to Moscow.

Four Russian intelligence officers who had entered the Netherlands under diplomatic passports were escorted out of the country after they were found to be carrying out a cyber attack on the OPCW chemical weapons watchdog.

And the United States charged seven Russian GRU officers for hacking and other crimes.

He accused North Atlantic Treaty Organisation states of making up claims about Russia as part of a propaganda campaign, and said Russians would not "swallow these provocations".

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned Russian Federation to halt its "reckless" behavior amid a series of global cyberattacks blamed on Moscow, and says NATO allies stand united behind the U.K. and Dutch governments.

At the time, the OPCW was working to verify the identity of the substance used in the March attack in Salisbury, Britain, on Mr Skripal and his daughter Julia.

Russia has been accused of attempting to hack the UN's Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) while it was investigating the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

According to a Justice Department press release, a grand jury in Pennsylvania sent the indictment, which says that beginning around December 2014 and up through May 2018, the operatives conducted sophisticated computer hacking operations that affected people in the US, corporations, global organizations and their employees around the world, "based on their strategic interest to the Russian government". The activities in Malaysia were related to the investigation into the 2014 shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine, Bijleveld added.

"The Russian military, and their intelligence arm "the GRU", is responsible for this pattern of malicious cyber activity", the government said in a statement.

Eichelsheim said the four agents were operating out of a Citroen vehicle parked outside the Marriott Hotel, which is next to the organisations headquarters on Johann de Wittlaan.

United Kingdom authorities believe two Russians, using the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, smeared the highly toxic Novichok chemical on a door handle at the Wiltshire home of Mr Skripal on March 4.

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Apparently unsuccessful in the effort from afar, two of the GRU spies flew to Rio to hack the Wi-Fi networks used by anti-doping officials in their hotels and elsewhere, officials said.

His remarks came after British and Australian officials said the Russian military intelligence unit GRU is behind a wave of global cyberattacks.

Through the use of spearphishing emails, stolen credentials and other cyberintrusions, a group calling itself the "Fancy Bears' Hack Team" publicized medical information and drug testing results of athletes and peddled a false narrative that certain athletes were using performance-enhancing drugs, prosecutors alleged Thursday.

The leaders of Britain and the Netherlands on Thursday condemned the GRU for "reckless" and "brazen" activities around the world and vowed to defend vital worldwide agencies from Russian aggression.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia recovered from poisoning after lengthy stays in hospital.

Britain's National Cyber Security Center says four new attacks are associated with GRU as well as earlier cyberattacks.

John Demers, US Assistant Attorney General for National Security, confirmed that known attack targets included the OPCW, football body FIFA, the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and Westinghouse.

The announcement comes on the same day the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) claimed a number of notorious cyber attackers responsible for some of the biggest hacks in recent years are all in fact Russian military intelligence (GRU).

British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said that these were "not the actions of a great power, this is the actions of a pariah state".

Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary-General, vowed to strengthen the alliance's defences against attacks on computer networks.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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