United Kingdom accuses Russia's GRU of organization of worldwide cyber-attacks


The ruble weakened against the dollar after UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters in London that British officials plan to discuss with allies "what further sanctions should be imposed" on Russian Federation.

Details were revealed on Thursday after the UK Government accused the GRU of a wave of other cyber attacks across the globe.

"These are the actions of a pariah state and we will continue working with allies to isolate them and make them understand they can not conduct themselves in such a way".

"The words matter because there are countries all over the world that are hearing both sides of the story - they're hearing what the Russians say as well", he said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov of Russian Federation said in a statement that the U.S.is taking a "dangerous path" by "deliberately inciting tensions in relations between the nuclear powers", adding that Washington's European allies should also think about it.

"We along with our allies will disclose and respond to the GRU attempts to subvert the world stability", he emphasized.

Dutch security services expelled four Russian intelligence officers in April over a cyber plot targeting the global chemical-weapons watchdog and an worldwide probe into the downing of a passenger jet over Ukraine in 2014, officials here said on Thursday.

According to Bijleveld-Schouten, the intelligence officers left belongings behind that also enabled the Dutch to discover that one of the agents' laptops had made connections to Brazil, Switzerland and Malaysia, trying to interfere with the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis said he agreed with the British and Dutch assessments.

"Why would you do that if you weren't the guilty party?"

"When it comes to interference in elections, the kinds of which we have seen in Montenegro, no country is secure or wholly protected from what could be the next cyber attack or intrusion from the Russian state".

The indictment said the GRU targets had publicly supported a ban on Russian athletes in global sports competitions and because they had condemned what they called a state-sponsored doping program by Russia.

When pressed on whether Britain's use of tough language could lead to an escalation in tensions and possibly a third world war, Mr Hunt said that will be avoided. The DOJ said Russians tried to breach Westinghouse Electric Company, a nuclear technology supplier, as well as the Spiez Swiss Chemical Laboratory, which analyzes military chemical agents-like the one United Kingdom officials believe was used to poison a former GRU officer in England.

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The Dutch alleged that on April 13, the Russians parked a auto in a hotel vehicle park with its boot facing the headquarters of the nearby OPCW HQ.

Addressing reporters, the Dutch counter-intelligence head gave a detailed description of what the four men were doing when their operation was disrupted. If that wasn't successful, the hackers would conduct "on-site" or "close access" hacking operations with trained GRU members traveling with sophisticated equipment to target their victims through Wi-Fi networks.

Dutch officials, who expelled the accused agents, found that one of the men had a receipt for a taxi that took him from a GRU barracks to the airport in Moscow on April 10, from where the four had flown to the Netherlands on diplomatic passports.

They were named in them as Alekski Morenets, described as a cyber operator, Evgenii Serebriakov, also a cyber operator, Oleg Soktnikov, described as humint (human intelligence) support, and Alexey Minin, also humint support.

Hacking operations extended to the UK, where the GRU attempted to "compromise Foreign and Commonwealth Office computer systems via a spearphishing attack" in March after the Salisbury attack, UK Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Wilson told the briefing in The Hague.

The OPCW has confirmed the toxic chemical that killed Dawn Sturgess in Amesbury was the same nerve agent as that which poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal three months earlier.

Earlier Mr Hunt said the GRU was waging a campaign of "indiscriminate and reckless" cyber strikes targeting political institutions, businesses, media and sport.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said a number of hackers known to have launched attacks have been linked to the GRU.

Britain has accused Russian military intelligence of directing a host of cyber attacks aimed at undermining Western democracies by sowing confusion in everything from sport to transport and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The NCSC said it was "almost certainly" the GRU behind a "BadRabbit" attack in October 2017 that caused disruption to the Kiev metro, Odessa airport and Russia's central bank.

Britain said the GRU was associated with a host of hackers, including APT 28, Fancy Bear, Sofacy, Pawnstorm, Sednit, CyberCaliphate, Cyber Berkut and Voodoo Bear.

That hacking singled out prominent Democrats in Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, with the intention to "release that information on the internet under the names DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 and through another entity", according to the Justice Department.