The cyber charges against Russian Federation: what have we learned?


The US indicted seven suspected Russian agents for conspiring to hack computers and steal data to delegitimise worldwide anti-doping organisations and punish officials who had revealed a Russian state-sponsored athlete doping programme.

According to the DOJ, Russia also took aim at a US -based nuclear energy company and a chemical weapons watchdog in The Hague, which was probing the March attack on former Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the United Kingdom.

Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU, used a trunkful of electronics to attack the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons earlier this year, Dutch officials said on Thursday.

In April, four GRU operatives allegedly flew from Moscow to the Netherlands and attempted to hack into and infect the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' Wi-Fi network in what's known as a close access hack operation.

Dutch authorities disclosed on Thursday how - with the help of United Kingdom intelligence - they thwarted an attempted cyber attack on the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. But not in this case: the Russians were nabbed in a hotel parking lot next to the OPCW office in a auto packed with gear created to tap into the agency's Wi-Fi network.

The leaders of Britain and the Netherlands on Thursday condemned the GRU for "reckless" and "brazen" activities around the world and vowed to defend vital global agencies from Russian aggression.

Hacking equipment belonging to four Russian officers of GRU, is seen on April 13, 2018.

Dutch authorities escorted four Russian intelligence officers out of the country hours after the auto they had rented was found parked near the OPCW's building in The Hague, its trunk full of gear for hacking WiFi networks.

While DOJ officials made it clear that this case is entirely separate from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, there are overlapping actors involved.

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Britain's ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Wilson, said the GRU would no longer be allowed to act with impunity.

"The attempt to compromise the networks of the OPCW is consistent with Russia's broader attacks on the independence and professionalism of the personnel of the OPCW".

The OPCW was at the time probing the nerve agent poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in the English town of Salisbury, and an alleged chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma by the Moscow-backed regime in Damascus.

"Through its disinformation campaign, Russian Federation is attempting to evade responsibility for its reckless and unacceptable acts and continue with such behaviour", he said, nothing the participation of the RCMP in the global investigation.

"Where Russia acts in an indiscriminate and reckless way, where they have done in terms of these cyber attacks, we will be exposing them", Williamson told reporters in Brussels at talks with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation counterparts.

Skripal, his daughter and a police officer fell seriously ill and a British woman later died after her partner found the poison in a discarded perfume bottle.

The Russian embassy in London said the UK's statement was "reckless" and part of an "anti-Russian campaign by the United Kingdom government".

Much of their activity by the Fancy Bears' website is alleged to have been retaliation against those who revealed Russia's state-sponsored doping programme, whilst propagating a campaign of disinformation to undermine the efforts of the anti-doping movement.

They were named in them as Alekski Morenets and Evgenii Serebriakov, described as a cyber operators, and Oleg Soktnikov and Alexey Minin, who were said to have provided "humint (human intelligence) support".