LONDON: Britain and Australia accused Russian military intelligence of conducting a campaign of cyber attacks targeting political institutions, businesses, media and sport bodies around the world.
Operatives from Russia’s GRU arm carried out various “reckless and indiscriminate” high-profile online attacks, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement.
Many have been previously linked to Moscow, including the 2017 “BadRabbit” ransomware targeting of a Ukrainian international airport and Russian media outlets, and the attempted hacking of the World Anti-Doping Agency in Switzerland, also last year.
“This pattern of behaviour demonstrates (the GRU’s) desire to operate without regard to international law or established norms and to do so with a feeling of impunity and without consequences,” Hunt said.
“Our message is clear: together with our allies, we will expose and respond to the GRU’s attempts to undermine international stability.”
Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) named the GRU operatives as the perpetrators, according to the Foreign Office.
The NCSC has “high confidence” that the GRU was “almost certainly” responsible for the 2017 attacks, as well as others including the infamous targeting of the US Democratic Party ahead of the 2016 presidential election, Whitehall sources said.
The British government holds the Kremlin ultimately responsible for the cyber campaign, they added.
The Foreign Office described the alleged cyber campaign as a “flagrant violation of international law” that had cost national economies millions of pounds.
“These cyber attacks serve no legitimate national security interest, instead impacting the ability of people around the world to go about their daily lives free from interference, and even their ability to enjoy sport,” Hunt added.
“The GRU’s actions are reckless and indiscriminate: they try to undermine and interfere in elections in other countries; they are even prepared to damage Russian companies and Russian citizens.”