• Sunday, Nov 29, 2020
  • Last Update : 04:37 pm

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

  • Published at 10:55 am October 20th, 2020
Tokyo olympics
File photo: People wearing protective face masks, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, are seen in front of the Giant Olympic rings at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan, February 27, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

Russia was banned from the world’s top sporting events for four years in December over widespread doping offences

Britain and the United States on Monday condemned what they said were a litany of malicious cyberattacks orchestrated by Russian military intelligence, including attempts to disrupt the  Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in 2021 in Tokyo.

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.

US officials would not say whether the timing of the announcement just ahead of the 2020 US Presidential election was intended to serve as a warning to foreign, government-linked hacking groups.


Also read: Tokyo Olympics will go ahead with or without Covid, says IOC's Coates


British officials said the GRU hackers had also conducted “cyber reconnaissance” operations against organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Games, which were originally scheduled to be held in 2020 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 organizers, logistics suppliers and sponsors.

In a virtual press conference on Monday, Justice Department Assistant Attorney General John Demers also declined to discuss the hacking activity around the 2020 Games.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The GRU’s actions against the Olympic and Paralympic Games are cynical and reckless. We condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”

FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said: “The FBI has repeatedly warned that Russia is a highly capable cyber adversary, and the information revealed in this indictment illustrates how pervasive and destructive Russia’s cyber activities truly are.”

The five ring symbol of the Olympic Games at Tokyo museum. BIGSTOCK

NotPetya attack

Russia was banned from the world’s top sporting events for four years in December over widespread doping offences, including the Tokyo Games which were originally scheduled for this year but postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The attacks on the 2020 Games are the latest in a string of hacking attempts against international sporting organizations that Western officials and cybersecurity experts say have been orchestrated by Russia since its doping scandal erupted in 2015. 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.


Also read: Russia banned from int'l sports, including 2020 Olympics and 2022 Fifa World Cup


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.

“The attacks on the 2020 Summer Games are the latest in a campaign of Russian malicious activity against the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” it said in a statement.

“The UK is confirming for the first time today the extent of GRU targeting of the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea.”

Other offensive cyber operations allegedly conducted by the GRU officers since 2015, according to the Justice Department, included the global cyberattack known as NotPetya.

In 2017, destructive NotPetya malware spread globally out of Ukraine, infecting and locking up thousands of computers belonging to corporations. Experts say NotPetya caused upwards of $1 billion in losses. At the time, companies publicly affected by NotPetya included FedEx Corporation and pharmaceutical giant Merck.

51
50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail