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DOJ Indicts 7 Russian Intelligence Officers in International Hacking Scheme

05 October 2018

Moscow accused the West of "spy mania" after Dutch security services said they had thwarted a Russian cyber attack on the OPCW.

The Netherlands said it expelled four Russian agents in April over a plot targeting both the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Dutch investigators looking into the 2014 downing of a passenger jet over Ukraine, while the U.S. Justice Department announced charges against GRU officers who it accused of targeting sports anti-doping agencies and a leading nuclear power developer.

The OPCW was not the only body investigating the Douma attack to be targeted, so was a Swiss laboratory in the town of Spiez that was verifying evidence from Syria plus the material taken from the scene in Salisbury, England, where Sergei Skirpal, the double agent, and his daughter Yulia, were made gravely ill by the use of the agent Novichok in an assassination plot.

Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne issued a joint statement that Australian intelligence agencies agreed that GRU "is responsible for this pattern of malicious cyber activity".

At a presentation, Dutch Major General Onno Eichelsheim showed the antennae, laptops and other equipment the men meant to use to breach the OPCW's wifi network.

After the Skripal poisoning, dozens of Western countries launched the biggest expulsion of Russian spies working under diplomatic cover since the height of the Cold War.

It started when one spy was caught with a mobile phone that had been activated on the GRU's doorstep in Moscow.

Speaking about the Russian intelligence service GRU, Mr Wilson said it was a "well-funded" unit of the Russian state and that it was behaving "aggressively across the world" and "with apparent impunity".

A laptop infected with ransomware during a worldwide cyberattack in the Netherlands. Dutch investigators said the snoopers nabbed outside the OPCW also appear to have logged into the Wi-Fi networks near the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Malaysian hotels where crash investigators had gathered to investigate the shooting down of passenger flight MH17.

He said Russia's actions against the Netherlands-based OPCW came as the agency was conducting an independent analysis of the nerve agent used against the Skripals.

The Netherlands released copies of their passports which identified them as Alexey Minin, Oleg Sotnikov, Evgenii Serebriakov and Aleksei Morenets, all in their 30s or 40s. They also showed photos of the men outside the hotel.

They were instead "put on a flight to Moscow", said Bijleveld.

'I am proud of the MIVD, they have done excellent work.

"One of the strongest weapons we have against cyber attacks should be transparency", said Peter Ricketts, a former British national security adviser.

USA officials said the Russian efforts also targeted athletes and anti-doping agencies as retaliation of Russia's state-sponsored athlete doping program, which saw Russia banned from the 2018 winter Olympics.

They used illegal crypto currency such as Bitcoin to "further their conspiracies", Demers said.

But its brazen nature and the GRU's decision to resort to a so-called "close access" hacking method says a lot about the motivation behind it and may smack of desperation.

Canada confirmed on Thursday it believes itself to have been targeted by Russian cyber attacks, citing breaches at its centre for ethics in sports and at the Montreal-based WADA.

The NCSC says that hackers from the GRU have operated using various names, including APT28, BlackEnergy Actors, Fancy Bear, and Tsar Team.

The West appeared to have made a coordinated response to the alleged Russian hacking, with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief Jens Stoltenberg separately warning Russia to halt its "reckless" behaviour and the European Union condemning "aggressive" Russian spying.

British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson called Russian Federation a "pariah state" that conducts "reckless and indiscriminate" attacks that have isolated Moscow from the rest of the world.

DOJ Indicts 7 Russian Intelligence Officers in International Hacking Scheme