Published: Fri, October 05, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

USA charges Russian GRU officers with hacking athletes, nuclear power company

USA charges Russian GRU officers with hacking athletes, nuclear power company

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

Russian Federation scathingly accused West of "spy mania", while Vladimir Putin has rejected similar charges.

Seven Russian intelligence officers were indicted for hacking the computers of anti-doping sports agencies and other organizations around the world, the Justice Department said Thursday.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis said the West has "a wide variety of responses" available. They were carrying €20,000 and U.S. $20,000 in cash, took their rubbish from their hotel room when they left and tried to destroy their mobile phones when they were intercepted. Other GRU spies then used the log-in and password to compromise the anti-doping agency's networks in Canada.

Justice Department officials say three of the seven Russian military intelligence officials accused in the hacking of anti-doping agencies were previously charged by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The accusations were levelled nearly simultaneously by the U.S., the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Canada - and included charges about alleged attacks on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Anti-Doping Agency, among others.

As part of the campaign, the GRU officers set up a Twitter account claiming to be the "Fancy Bears" Hack Team and selectively released stolen information, which had often been modified in an effort to besmirch or undermine particular athletes.

They were disrupted while an attempt was made at a "close access hack operation" at around 4.30pm on Friday.

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Dutch officials say the gear was used to intrude on WiFi networks.

Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld said that the GRU's alleged hacking attempts on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons took place in April and were disrupted by authorities.

Describing the Russian operation as "very worrying", Bijleveld-Schouten said the four men were expelled on April 13, the same day the plot was detected. Those were Minin, Sotnikov, Serebriakov and Morenets.

Two of the officers were planning to travel on to Switzerland where the OPCW - which was at the time investigating the Salisbury attack and a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria - has laboratories. Four of the attacks were newly attributed on Thursday.

According to a secret White House assessment recently cited by Wired, the attack caused $10bn worth of damage worldwide.

The hack and release of sports figures' medical data in 2016 and the downing of Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 also allegedly carry the GRU's fingerprints.

Russia's interests were at stake in both cases.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has continually denied that Russia was involved in the attempted assassinations of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

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"With its aggressive cyber-campaigns, we see the GRU trying to clean up Russia's own mess - be it the doping uncovered by Wada [the World Anti-Doping Agency] or the nerve agent identified by the OPCW", Mr Wilson said.

In a joint statement Theresa May and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said: "We have, with the operations exposed today, further shone a light on the unacceptable cyber activities of the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU". Britain blames the secretive agency for the March poisoning of Skripal and his daughter.

The "Be Taxi" company has verified the authenticity of a receipt seized by the Dutch authorities from an alleged GRU agent.

Dutch authorities showed photos including one of a gray rented Citroen with its trunk full of hacking equipment.

Details were released in a co-ordinated release by the United Kingdom and Dutch authorities on Thursday. The GRU does not comment publicly on its actions.

The U.S. Treasury said in March that the GRU "knowingly engages in significant activities that undermine cybersecurity on behalf of the Russian government".

US Secretary of Defence James Mattis speaks during a news conference after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

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