US, Britain call out Russian hacking spree, cyberattacks against Olympics

US Assistant Attorney General John Demers, Washington, 19 October.

The United States and Britain on Monday condemned what they said were a litany of malicious cyberattacks orchestrated by Russian military intelligence, including attempts to disrupt next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Reuters reported. British and US officials said the attacks were conducted by Unit 74455 of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, also known as the Main Centre for Special Technologies.

In an indictment unsealed on Monday, the US Justice Department said six members of the unit had played key roles in attacks on targets ranging from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to the 2017 French elections. The charges covered four years of malicious cyber activity, from 2015 to 2019. The timing of the indictment was unrelated to the US election, Assistant Attorney General John Demers said.

British officials said the GRU hackers had also conducted “cyber reconnaissance” operations against organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Games, which were originally scheduled to be held this year but postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. The British officials declined to give specific details about the latest attacks or say whether they were successful, but said they had targeted Games organisers, logistics suppliers and sponsors.

The attacks on the 2020 Games are the latest in a string of hacking attempts against international sporting organisations that Western officials and cybersecurity experts say have been orchestrated by Russia since its doping scandal erupted five years ago. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Britain and the United States said on Monday the hackers were involved in other attacks, such as the hack of the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea, which compromised hundreds of computers, took down Internet access and disrupted broadcast feeds.

The attack in South Korea had previously been linked to Russia by cybersecurity researchers but was made to look like the work of Chinese or North Korean hackers, Britain’s foreign ministry said.

Russia's embassy in Washington denied on Tuesday allegations that Russian state hackers had committed cyberattacks targeting rival countries, dpa reported."It is completely obvious that such conclusions have nothing to do with reality and are intended only to stir up anti-Russian sentiments in American society," the Russian embassy said in a statement carried by state news outlet RIA.

 

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