Published: Sat, October 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Police, AG targeted by Russian hackers

Police, AG targeted by Russian hackers

Russian Federation plotted a cyber-attack on the global chemical weapons watchdog but it was foiled by the Dutch security services, officials say.

"UK-Russia relations are at the lowest point they have been since the end of the Cold War", Prof Chalmers said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the accusations a "rich fantasy of our colleagues from Britain" that were "mixed in one perfume bottle".

Its foreign ministry has said a statement would follow shortly after it dismissed the earlier allegations from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands as "Western spy mania. picking up pace".

The allegations by the British came as Dutch officials claimed at a news conference that the GRU tried to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in April before authorities disrupted it.

The US Justice Department indicted seven agents of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency as part of a joint crackdown with allies Britain and the Netherlands on a series of major hacking plots attributed to Moscow.

Then came the US government's turn, with the US Justice Department charging seven Russian GRU intelligence officers - including the four nabbed in The Hague - of an global hacking rampage that targeted more than 250 athletes, a nuclear energy company and a Swiss chemical laboratory.

The British and Dutch accusations were unveiled as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers gathered in Brussels to present a united front to their Cold War-era foe.

European Union officials said in a statement Russia's "aggressive act demonstrated contempt for the solemn purpose" of the OPCW.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in a statement late on October 4 called on US allies Britain, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands - all of which joined Washington in making the allegations - to reconsider, saying the allegations are a pretext for imposing new sanctions on Russian Federation.

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Four of the names in the indictment match those given by Dutch authorities in connection with an alleged GRU cyberoperation against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an global chemical weapons watchdog organization based in the Netherlands.

At the time of the attack the OPCW was investigating the nerve agent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England.

Spy agencies around the world now have a database of Russian cyber spies - because two of the men caught in The Hague had diplomatic passports using their real names and dates of birth. They were expelled to Russian Federation.

The four escaped criminal charges because they carried diplomatic passports and were deported to Moscow. Reuters was not immediately able to contact them.

UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said Russian military intelligence (GRU) used a network of hackers to undermine administrations.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the disclosures were "hard evidence" of the "unacceptable" activities of the GRU which Britain has previously blamed for the attack in Salisbury.

The EU has condemned Russia after several cyber attacks across the globe have been linked to the Russian military intelligence service, GRU.

In fact, GRU made some serious errors in the past, Golts said, citing the Soviet-era case of Dmitry Polyakov, a general who trained its agents before being exposed as a double-agent for the United States and shot in 1988. Moscow says he is a Russian parliamentary staff member and has demanded Oslo lift the "absurd charges".

Britain and Australia had just hours earlier pointed the blame directly at alleged GRU front operations such as Fancy Bear and APT 28 for a string of worldwide attacks.

Three of the men were also charged with attempting to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election, but Thursday's indictments were unrelated to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, CNN reports.

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