Published: Fri, October 05, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

USA charges Russian military officers over worldwide hacking and disinformation campaigns

USA charges Russian military officers over worldwide hacking and disinformation campaigns

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly and angrily rejected similar charges, and Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, reacting to the British and Australian claims, that the allegations had been mixed together "indiscriminately".

The indictments were announced as Dutch security services said they had thwarted a cyber attack on the global chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW - expelling four Russian agents - and after Britain and Australia blamed the GRU for plots that notably targeted the US Democratic Party and global sports bodies.

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.

Prime minister Mark Rutte issued a joint statement with his British counterpart Theresa May earlier in the day condemning Russia's 'disregard for global values'. Dutch and Swiss media reported in September that two Russians were arrested in April in The Hague after trying to hack into the OPCW headquarters.

Pictures revealed at the news conference showed the vehicle they used with a wifi antenna and technical equipment in its boot, thought to be used to hack the network.

The head of Dutch counterintelligence confirmed that the OPCW was working on the Skripal investigation at the time but added that investigators "have not been able to prove that they targeted the OPCW because of the Skripal investigation".

A laptop infected with ransomware during a worldwide cyberattack in the Netherlands.

Ms Bijleveld also accused the men of attempting to access investigation files related to the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine.

Maj Gen Eichelsheim said the group were planning to travel to Switzerland, to a laboratory in Spiez where the OPCW analysed samples.

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At a news conference at the Hague, Dutch authorities showed passport pictures of four people - three cyber officers and a case officer - who arrived at Schiphol airport from Moscow on April 10.

They are said to have had €20,000 and $20,000 in cash with them.

NATO's chief vowed on Thursday to strengthen the alliance's defences against attacks on computer networks that Britain said are directed by Russian military intelligence, also calling on Russia to stop its "reckless" behaviour.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency were among their hacking targets, as well sporting organizations including the Federation Internationle de Football Association (FIFA) and athletes whose medical records were stolen and later publicized. In February, as part of Mueller's probe of Kremlin interference in the election, officials announced an indictment of more than a dozen Russian "trolls" who spread information online and of several operatives who travelled to the United States and posed as Americans to whip up protests and stoke political divisions.

"We want the hundreds of victims of these Russian hackers to know that we will do everything we can to hold these criminals accountable for their crimes", said Scott Brady, US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, where the grand jury indicted the Russians.

The allegations are part of an organised push-back against alleged Russian cyber attacks around the world.

The British report said the GRU had associated itself with a host of hackers involved in high-profile attacks, known by such names as APT 28, Fancy Bear, Sofacy, Pawnstorm, Sednit, CyberCaliphate, Cyber Berkut, Voodoo Bear, and BlackEnergy Actors.

The West's coordinated response also saw North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief Jens Stoltenberg warning Russia to halt its "reckless" behaviour and the European Union condemning "aggressive" Russian spying.

"This is not the actions of a great power; this is the actions of a pariah state", British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said during a visit to Brussels. "And that's what happened today", he told reporters in Saskatchewan. Britain blames the secretive military intelligence unit for the nerve agent attack in March on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the English city of Salisbury.

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