U.S. Charges Six Russian Military Officers With Hacking American Companies, 2018 Olympics, and Foreign Countries

A poster showing six wanted Russian military intelligent officers is displayed before a news conference at the Department of Justice on Oct. 19, 2020, in Washington. | Andrew Harnik / Pool via AP

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday accused six Russian computer hackers of causing power blackouts, financial losses of nearly $1 billion and targeting the 2018 Winter Olympics in China.

Court documents said the six were officers in the Russian military’s main intelligence directorate and used “some of the most destructive malware to date.” Prosecutors said it caused blackouts in Ukraine, victimized the Olympics opening ceremony, and caused losses of nearly $1 billion to Pennsylvania’s Heritage Valley Health System and three other U.S. companies, including a large pharmaceutical manufacturer.

The Russians were also accused of hacking and leaking materials targeting French President Emmanuel Macron’s political party in 2017, attempting to interfere with the United Kingdom’s 2018 investigations into the poisoning of Russian dissident Sergei Skripal and his daughter, and trying to compromise media in the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 2018 and 2019.

John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said the behavior detailed in Monday’s charges against Russian military officers amount to an accusation of the most disruptive and destructive computer attacks ever attributed to a single group.

“No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite,” Demers said.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Pete Williams and Kevin Collier