The Latest: Russian envoy rejects reports of cybercrimes
LONDON — The Latest on a new wave of global cyberattacks blamed on Russia (all times local):
A top Russian diplomat is warning the U.S. that its allegations of cybercrimes by the Russian intelligence could dangerously escalate tensions between the nuclear superpowers.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement that the U.S. is taking a “dangerous path” by “deliberately inciting tensions in relations between the nuclear powers.” He added the U.S. allies in Europe should also think about it.
The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday charged seven Russian military intelligence officers with hacking anti-doping agencies and other international organizations. Britain and the Netherlands accused the Russian GRU intelligence agency of a series of global cybercrimes.
Ryabkov rejected the accusations as unfounded. He said they were intended to support Washington’s claims of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and create a pretext for new sanctions against Russia.
IOC President Thomas Bach says the world Olympic body has “not been contacted by the different agencies” in the West who have alleged that a Russian military intelligence unit carried out cyberattacks against sports organizations.
Bach says the International Olympic Committee was “the target of numerous attacks” and has “constantly improved our defense system.”
He spoke in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after an IOC board meeting on the same day that the U.S. Department of Justice indicted seven Russian spies for wide-ranging attacks on a chemical arms watchdog, anti-doping agencies, Olympic athletes and a plane crash probe.
Bach did not directly address a question asking if he felt let down by Russia for directly attacking the IOC.
The IOC president has long been seen as an ally of Russia who has resisted calls from athletes and national anti-doping agencies who urged tougher action against Russia’s state-backed cheating that corrupted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry is rejecting the Dutch and British accusations of cybercrimes by Russian intelligence agents as “propaganda.”
The ministry dismissed the accusations as a sham, claiming their comments reflect “Western paranoia about the omnipotent Russian cyberspies.”
Britain and the Netherlands on Thursday accused the Russian GRU military intelligence agency of a series of global cybercrimes, including attacks against the international chemical weapons watchdog and other international agencies, including the World Anti-Doping Agency and groups investigating the 2014 downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane by a missile over Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry alleged that the accusations could be aimed at creating the “necessary political environment” before the chemical watchdog’s meeting next week, where Western nations could push to empowering the watchdog to name culprits in chemical attacks.
Russia opposes that, arguing that only the U.N. Security Council should have such authority.
A top Russian diplomat says Western allegations of cybercrimes by the Russian military intelligence are part of a multi-pronged campaign to vilify Moscow.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by Interfax as saying that the claims are intended to cast Russia as an enemy. He said the U.S. and its allies “lost the sense of measure and normalcy,” and that they will keep making new accusations against Russia “so that the issue stays hot.”
The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday charged seven Russian military intelligence officers with hacking anti-doping agencies and other organizations. Britain and the Netherlands accused the Russian GRU military intelligence of a series of global cybercrimes.
Ryabkov said Russia has no intention to interfere in the midterm elections in the U.S. or meddle elsewhere.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has welcomed a U.S. indictment of Russians accused of hacking sports organizations and releasing athletes’ medical records.
WADA says the alleged hackers “sought to violate athletes’ rights by exposing personal and private data – often then modifying them – and ultimately undermine the work of WADA and its partners in the protection of clean sport.”
WADA says it was “pleased to collaborate” with the investigation and has tightened up security since it was hacked in 2016.
WADA, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the Canadian anti-doping agency were all named as victims in a U.S. Department of Justice indictment against seven Russian intelligence agents that was unsealed Thursday.
Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. anti-doping agency and a prominent critic of Russian athletes’ drug use, says “a system that was abusing its own athletes with an institutionalized doping program has now been indicted for perpetrating cyberattacks on innocent athletes from around the world.”
The highest court in world sports says it is “good to know” that Russian hackers who allegedly attacked its website during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics have been identified.
The Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport processed dozens of doping and Olympic eligibility cases involving Russian athletes in the days before and during the games held Aug. 5-21 two years ago.
A U.S. Department of Justice indictment against seven Russians unsealed Thursday alleged they registered a fake domain similar to the one for the sports court’s official website and two suspects “conducted online reconnaissance efforts targeting CAS email accounts.”
In a statement, the court said its “servers were resistant enough to ensure data protection.”
The indictment says defendant Ivan Yermakov also targeted a hotel chain that operated the Rio property where the sports court had a dedicated Olympic tribunal.
A senior Russian lawmaker has lashed out against new Western claims of alleged cybercrimes by the Russian military intelligence, saying they are intended to smear Russia.
The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday charged seven Russian military intelligence officers with hacking anti-doping agencies and other organizations. Britain and the Netherlands condemned the Russian GRU military intelligence for a series of alleged global cybercrimes.
Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russian parliament, denounced the accusations as fake, saying they are intended to “delegitimize Russia” and pave the way for using any illegitimate means against it.
He argued that the West has picked up the GRU as “a modern analogue of the KGB which served as a bugaboo for people in the West during the Cold War.”
The global chemical weapons watchdog that was targeted by Russian hackers says it “takes very seriously the security of its information systems and networks.”
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says in a statement that its director general was briefed Thursday by Dutch authorities about the Russian hackers who were foiled in April and expelled from the Netherlands.
The OPCW says that since early this year it “has observed increased cyber-related activities” and “undertaken measures to mitigate them.”
The organization, which oversees the global convention outlawing chemical weapons, is headquartered in The Hague.
Justice Department officials say three of the seven Russian military intelligence officials accused in the hacking of anti-doping agencies were previously charged by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The three defendants named in an indictment unsealed Thursday also were named in a July indictment that accused Russia of hacking Democratic email accounts and facilitating the release of stolen emails.
John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official, said the new indictment didn’t arise out of Mueller’s investigation. But he says the Russian hackers in the latest case allegedly used some of the same methods and had the same general goal: to spread disinformation and confusion.
Demers says the indictment shows hackers can’t use anonymity to hide from the law.
The U.S. Justice Department has charged seven Russian military intelligence officers with hacking anti-doping agencies and other organizations.
An indictment announced in Washington on Thursday says Russia’s military intelligence agency, known as the GRU, targeted the hacking victims because they had publicly supported a ban on Russian athletes in international sports competitions and because they had condemned Russia’s state-sponsored athlete doping program.
Prosecutors say the Russians also targeted a Pennsylvania-based nuclear energy company and an international organization that was investigating chemical weapons in Syria and the poisoning of a former GRU officer.
The indictment says the hacking was often conducted remotely. 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
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the United States stands ready to help its NATO allies amid allegations that Russia’s intelligence services launched a series of cyberattacks.
After talks with NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Thursday, Mattis said: “We are ready today to provide cyber-support to our allies. That is now.”
He did not say if the offered capabilities would be used in response to British and Dutch claims that Russia’s GRU attempted cyberattacks on the international chemical weapons watchdog and other targets.
Mattis backed their allegations, saying: “I’ve seen enough of the evidence to say the Dutch and the British are 100 percent accurate in who they’ve attributed this to.”
Britain, the Netherlands and Denmark also offered offensive cyber-capabilities to NATO.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned Russia to halt its “reckless” behavior amid a series of global cyberattacks blamed on Moscow, and says NATO allies stand united behind the U.K. and Dutch governments.
In a statement issued Thursday during a meeting of NATO defense ministers, Stoltenberg said “NATO allies stand in solidarity with the decision by the Dutch and British governments to call out Russia on its blatant attempts to undermine international law and institutions.”
He said that “Russia must stop its reckless pattern of behavior, including the use of force against its neighbors, attempted interference in election processes, and widespread disinformation campaigns.”
The 29 allies are discussing cybersecurity at talks in Brussels, with the U.S., Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands due to announce that they will provide offensive cyber-capabilities for use by NATO.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have released a joint statement condemning the Russian military intelligence unit GRU for a series of alleged global cybercrimes.
The two leaders said Thursday they will “defend international institutions from those that seek do to them harm.”
They spoke after officials from both countries blamed the GRU for a series of attacks against the international chemical weapons watchdog and other agencies, including the World Anti-Doping Agency and groups investigating the 2014 Malaysian Airlines crash over Ukraine.
May and Rutte say the attacks “demonstrate again the GRU’s disregard for the global values and rules that keep us all safe.”
Russia on Thursday dismissed the accusations as “fantasies.”
The Dutch defense minister says Russia’s military intelligence unit attempted cybercrimes targeting the international chemical weapons watchdog and the investigation into the 2014 Malaysian Airlines crash over Ukraine.
Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld said the GRU’s hacking attempts on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which she said took place in April, were disrupted by authorities. Four Russian intelligence officers were immediately expelled from the Netherlands, she said.
Speaking about Russia’s hacking attempts into the MH17 crash investigation Thursday, she said: “We have been aware of the interest of Russian intelligence services in this investigation and have taken appropriate measures.” She added that “We remain very alert about this.”
This version removes the incorrect reference to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as a U.N. organization.
Russia’s foreign ministry has denied allegations by British and Australian authorities that the Russian military intelligence agency GRU was behind a fresh wave of global cybercrimes.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Thursday dismissed the new accusations as “big fantasies.”
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center cited four new attacks associated with the GRU targeting the World Anti-Doping agency, Ukrainian transport systems, the 2016 U.S. presidential race and others.
British officials earlier blamed the GRU for the March nerve agent attack on a Russian ex-spy and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.
Britain’s defense minister says a series of global cyberattacks blamed on Russia are the actions of a “pariah state” and that the U.K. and its NATO allies will expose such activities in the future.
Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said Thursday that “where Russia acts in an indiscriminate and reckless way, where they have done in terms of these cyberattacks, we will be exposing them.”
His remarks came after British and Australian officials said the Russian military intelligence unit GRU is behind a wave of global cyberattacks.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center says four new attacks are associated with GRU as well as earlier cyberattacks.
Williamson said: “This is not the actions of a great power. This is the actions of a pariah state.”