Experts hope that indictments against six Russian military intelligence agents will make Russia rethink plans to disrupt the US election.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed charges against six hackers who allegedly are part of Sandworm, a Russian military intelligence group responsible for a string of damaging and unprecedented acts of malicious digital activity. The breadth of crimes that DOJ accuses the hackers of committing is extensive, from shutting down Ukraine’s power grid — twice — to the launch of faux ransomware NotPetya, which caused billions of dollars in damages globally, to devastating cyberattacks on the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.
The indictment spells out multiple computer fraud and conspiracy charges against each defendant and is the first time Russia has been identified as the culprit behind the Olympic attacks. In those incidents, attackers deployed destructive malware called Olympic Destroyer to disrupt the 2018 games. The Russian hackers had attempted to blame North Korea, China and other adversaries as the culprit of those assaults through a series of false flags implanted in the malware that were designed to throw investigators off track.
The DOJ further alleges that the hackers and their co-conspirators helped Russia retaliate against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal by poisoning him, along with his daughter, with a weapons-grade nerve agent, Novichok. Other crimes outlined in the indictment are a series of spear phishing attacks against the country of Georgia and Georgian non-government organizations in January 2018 and a cyberattack in Georgia around October 2019 that defaced approximately 15,000 websites and disrupted service to them.
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