Russia was condemned by the US, British and Dutch authorities for maintaining a hacking campaign which compromises democracy on multiple levels, writes The Washington Post.
On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department officials announced indictment against seven officers with Russia’s GRU (also known as the Main Intelligence Directorate, the intelligence arm of the Russian military, different to the former KGB as it conducts undercover military operations and collects intelligence operations around the globe). The charges relate to their link to the leak of athletes’ drug-test data and their attempts for stealing information from organizations probing Russia’s alleged use of chemical weapons, including the poisoning of a former GRU spy in Britain. There had been charges against three of the seven officers in 2016 as well, for interfering in the presidential elections.
“Nations like Russia, and others that engage in malicious and norm-shattering cyber and influence activities, should understand the continuing and steadfast resolve of the United States and its allies to prevent, disrupt and deter such unacceptable conduct,” said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security.
The Dutch government said that its intelligence services (MIVD) had disrupted an attempt by Russian hackers to attack the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) headquarters in The Hague, back in April.
The Guardian published a series of photos released by the Dutch Ministry of Defence, showing an arsenal of specialist electronic wi fi hacking equipment, stored in the boot of the Russians’ car. The moment of apprehension of the GRU officers by MIVD is also captured.
Last but not least, the British government accused the GRU of “reckless and indiscriminate cyberattacks,’’ concerning manipulation of Olympic athletes’ medical records (using phishing to gain passwords), disruptions on the Kiev subway system and the 2016 theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee.
Maria Zakharova, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, described the accusation as a "rich fantasy of our colleagues from Britain […] mixed in one perfume bottle, […] maybe a Nina Ricci bottle: GRU, WADA, Kremlin hackers - it's a diabolical perfume."
Former UK diplomat Lord Ricketts stated for BBC that rather than the UK participating in an offensive cyber counterattack, the government should continue targeting "dodgy Russian money" with economic sanctions.
Photo source: CNN