U.S., Britain accuse Russian Federation of cyberattacks aimed at disrupting Tokyo Olympics

U.S., Britain accuse Russian Federation of cyberattacks aimed at disrupting Tokyo Olympics

The embassy was responding to a flurry of damning accusations by the US Justice Department, which on Monday announced charges for six alleged Russian citizens - Yuriy Sergeyevich Andrienko, Sergey Vladimirovich Detistov, Pavel Valeryevich Frolov, Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, Artem Valeryevich Ochichenko and Petr Nikolayevich Pliskin - for "conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and false registration of a domain name".

The hackers, who are all current or former members of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), are accused of carrying out attacks on Ukraine's power grid, targeting the 2017 French elections and the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, according to the Justice Department.

Organisers said they were on constant alert for cyber attacks yesterday but had yet to suffer "significant impact" after Britain accused Russian Federation of targeting the Tokyo Olympics.

And the global malware attack known as NotPetya that infected computers across the world harmed the operations of the Heritage Valley Heath System, which prosecutors say serves tens of thousands of people in western Pennsylvania.

"The GRU's actions against the Olympic and Paralympic Games are cynical and reckless", he said.

United Kingdom officials have attributed several cyber-attacks against major organisations to GRU units operating under various names such as Sandworm, VoodooBear and Iron Viking.

Robert Lee, a security researcher who helped uncover the malware used in one of the Ukraine hacks, said US and European political leaders should have done more at the time to call out Russian Federation and make clear that attacks on power grids are unacceptable.

Russian Federation 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.

"No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russian Federation, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite", Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, said in the Justice Department statement.

It was prevented by IT officials cutting off affected computers and replacing them entirely to prevent the malware from spreading, it said.

British officials added that the GRU hackers had also conducted "cyber reconnaissance" operations against organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Games, which were postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

"Rather, today's charges illustrate how Unit 74455's election activities were but one part of the work of a persistent, sophisticated hacking group busy sabotaging perceived enemies or detractors of the Russian Federation, regardless of the consequences to innocent bystanders or their destabilizing effect", Demers said.

On that occasion, the operation was a "false flag" - one created to look like it came from North Korea or China, they said. This occurred in 2017 with NotPetya, a worm-like attack that cost billions of dollars in damages by permanently corrupting Windows machines largely based in Ukraine. In all, the attacks resulted in losses of almost $1 billion to the companies.

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