October 6, 2018 at
Russian intelligence targeting organizations around the world
Newly reported suspicions regarding the activities of Russian military intelligence say that GRU officers might be on a new cyber-espionage mission. Supposedly, the officers were reported traveling to different destinations around the world in order to compromise Wi-Fi networks. So far, it is believed that targeted organizations are located in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Malaysia, and Brazil.
These allegations were reported by the Department of Justice of the United States. According to their claims, around seven officers belonging to Russian military intelligence were sent on a new cyber-espionage campaign. The officers are indicted by the DoJ for wire fraud, money laundering, hacking, and aggravated identity theft.
The campaign originally included gaining targeted users’ log-ins through hacking attempts. However, in cases where this method failed, operatives were supposedly instructed to physically travel to destinations and reach their targets. Their new goal is to hack targeted organizations via Wi-Fi connections. This supposedly even includes Wi-Fi networks of various hotels.
The DoJ claims that targets of the campaign include multiple organizations, among which are also the anti-doping agency called WADA, as well as OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons). OPCW is also known for investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria, as well as the Salisbury poisoning.
On-location hacking attempts confirmed
Reports are suggesting that up to four GRU officers were observed setting up hacking equipment. Allegedly, the equipment was set up in the boot of one of the cars parked in front of OPCW’s office in The Hague. The process was said to be disrupted by Dutch intelligence, that was able to confirm that the same equipment was used in a Swiss hotel located by the CCES (Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport). Additionally, the same type of equipment was also reported in a hotel in Kuala Lupar. This location is the sight of a recent investigation into the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17’s Ukraine downing.
In another recent statement, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, stated that disinformation and state-backed hacking campaigns are a serious threat. They pose a threat not only to security but also to the open society as well. However, the Department of Justice is hard at work to uncover and neutralize any such threat at all times.
The discovery of the GRU officers and their mission is the latest result of those efforts, which is why they were indicted with multiple felonies. The indictment also named several other organizations suspected of being victimized by GRU officers. One of them is Westinghouse Electric Company, a US-based power provider. Supposedly, the company has recently been a target of several spear-phishing attacks.