On Monday, a federal grand-jury in Pittsburg approved indictment charges against six Russian military intelligence (GRU) officers for computer hacking and attacks in multiple countries across the world beginning in November 2015 and continuing until October 2019. The indictment includes conspiracy charges, computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and false registration of a domain name.
The GRU hackers are accused of undertaking these efforts on behalf of the Russian government to destabilize Ukraine and Georgia. They are also accused of undermining France’s elections and efforts to hold Russia accountable for using Novichok, a weapons-grade nerve agent, in foreign countries. Finally, they have been accused of retaliating against the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic games after Russian athletes were banned from participating under the Russian flag due to government-sponsored doping efforts.
The attacks used malware that the Justice Department calls some of the world’s most dangerous to date. The GRU officers are accused of using KillDisk and Industroyer malware to cause blackouts in Ukraine. They are also accused of using malware called Olympic Destroyer to disrupt thousands of computers used to support the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and its opening ceremony.
The Justice Department alleges nearly $1 billion in losses to three victims due to an attack on worldwide businesses and critical infrastructure using NotPetya malware. The three victims of the NotPetya attack included: hospitals and other medical facilities in the Heritage Valley Health System located in Pennsylvania; a FedEx subsidiary, TNT Express B.V.; and a large-sized US pharmaceutical manufacturer.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers responded to the indictments on Monday. “Today 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. No nation will recapture greatness while behaving in this way.”
The defendants include Yuriy Sergeyevich Andrienko, (32); Sergey Vladimirovich Detistov (35); Pavel Valeryevich Frolov (28); Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev (29); Artem Valeryevich Ochichenko (27); and Petr Nikolayevich Pliskin (32). Each are charged with seven counts. If convicted on all seven charges, the defendants could fact up to 80 years in prison.