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US charges 6 Russian intelligence men for global hacking campaign

Washington : The US Justice Department has charged six Russian intelligence officers with being part of an extensive worldwide hacking campaign, including the NotPetya ransomware attacks that targeted Ukraine in 2015.

A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh returned an indictment charging six computer hackers, all of whom were residents and nationals of Russia and officers in the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a military intelligence agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces.

According to the indictment, the hackers also targeted the country of Georgia, the French elections and poisoning of former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal.

“These GRU hackers and their co-conspirators engaged in computer intrusions and attacks intended to support Russian government efforts “to undermine, retaliate against, or otherwise destabilize Ukraine, Georgia, elections in France, efforts to hold Russia accountable for its use of a weapons-grade nerve agent, and the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games,” the US Justice Department said in a statement on Monday.

“No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.

The department has charged these Russian officers with conducting the most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group, including by unleashing the NotPetya malware.

“The FBI has repeatedly warned that Russia is a highly capable cyber adversary, and the information revealed in this indictment illustrates how pervasive and destructive Russia’s cyber activities truly are,” said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich.

The NotPetya malware spread worldwide, damaged computers used in critical infrastructure, and caused enormous financial losses.

“For more than two years we have worked tirelessly to expose these Russian GRU Officers who engaged in a global campaign of hacking, disruption and destabilization, representing the most destructive and costly cyber-attacks in history,” said US Attorney Scott W. Brady for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The NotPetya malware spread worldwide, damaged computers used in critical infrastructure, and caused enormous financial losses.

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