By Harrison Arubu
New York, Oct. 1, 2020 (NAN) The U.S. has indicted six Russian military intelligence officers for high-profile cyberattacks on targets across the world between 2015 and 2019.
According to the Department of Justice, the targets included the 2017 French elections, Ukraine’s electric power grid and the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
It alleged that the attackers deployed destructive malwares that infected computer networks worldwide including in Georgia, the Netherlands, South Korea, the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
The department said in a statement that four companies in the U.S., including a FedEx Corporation subsidiary and a large pharmaceutical manufacturer, suffered nearly one billion dollars (N400 billion) in losses as a result.
According to the indictment, the attackers also targeted investigations into the 2018 nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer, and his daughter, Yulia, in Britain.
Specifically, it said the attackers employed spearphishing campaigns against the investigations conducted by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Kingdom’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
The department alleged that the cyberattacks were in support of Russia’s effort to undermine or retaliate against foreign nations and organisations around the world.
The individuals charged are: Yuriy Sergeyevich Andrienko, 32; Sergey Vladimirovich Detistov, 35; Pavel Valeryevich Frolov, 28; Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, 29; Artem Valeryevich Ochichenko, 27; and Petr Nikolayevich Pliskin, 32.
“No country has weaponised its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia,” the statement quoted the Assistant Attorney-General for National Security, John Demers, as saying.
Demers said Russia “wantonly caused unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite”.
“Today the department has charged these Russian officers with conducting the most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group, including by unleashing the NotPetya malware.
“No nation will recapture greatness while behaving in this way,” he said.
David Bowdich, Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said the agency had repeatedly warned the world about Russia being a “highly capable cyber adversary”.
Bowdich said information disclosed in the indictment “illustrates how pervasive and destructive Russia’s cyber activities truly are”.
“But this indictment also highlights the FBI’s capabilities. We have the tools to investigate these malicious malware attacks, identify the perpetrators, and then impose risks and consequences on them.
“As demonstrated today, we will relentlessly pursue those who threaten the U.S. and its citizens,” he said.