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U.S. Indicts Russian Hackers behind the 2018 Olympics and 2017 French Election Cyber-Attacks

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The U.S. Justice Department has indicted six current and former members of Russia’s military intelligence unit for allegedly instigating several massive computer hacking attacks worldwide from 2015 until 2019.

The U.S. Justice Department has indicted six current and former members of Russia’s military intelligence unit for allegedly instigating computer hacking attacks for four years, causing major disruptions to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and 2017 French elections, as well as severe damages to several U.S. companies.

According to the department’s unsealed indictment on Monday, the six defendants were also accused of launching destructive attacks on Ukraine’s power grid that led to a massive blackout in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in 2016.

“Their computer attacks used some of the world’s most destructive malware to date,” the department said.

The department stated in its 50-page indictment that the cyber-attack started in 2015 until 2019, saying that “the defendants and their co-conspirators deployed destructive malware and took other disruptive actions, for the strategic benefit of Russia, through unauthorized access to victim computers.”

The hackers were accused of spreading NotPetya malware – a kind of ransomware that rapidly propagates from one computer to another without needing spam emails or social engineering to acquire administrative access – that damaged many networks and computers that were used for critical infrastructure.

“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,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in the department’s released statement.

Demers also called it as “the most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group.”