The United States Thursday indicted seven Russian intelligence officials on charges of computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.
According to the indictment, all officers in the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a Russian military intelligence agency, between December 2014 and May 2018, conducted persistent and sophisticated computer intrusions affecting US persons, corporate entities, international organizations, and their respective employees located around the world, based on their strategic interest to the Russian government.
Among the goals of the conspiracy was to publicise stolen information as part of an influence and disinformation campaign designed to undermine, retaliate against, and otherwise delegitimise the efforts of international anti-doping organisations and officials who had publicly exposed a Russian state-sponsored athlete doping program and to damage the reputations of athletes around the world by falsely claiming that such athletes were using banned or performance-enhancing drugs, Department of Justice alleged.
"State-sponsored hacking and disinformation campaigns pose serious threats to our security and to our open society, but the Department of Justice is defending against them," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.
"Today we are indicting seven GRU officers for multiple felonies each, including the use of hacking to spread the personal information of hundreds of anti-doping officials and athletes as part of an effort to distract from Russia's state-sponsored doping program," Sessions said.
The Russians, he said, in this case allegedly targeted multiple Americans and American entities for hacking, from national anti-doping agency to the Westinghouse Electric Company near Pittsburgh.
"The actions of these seven hackers, all working as officials for the Russian government, were criminal, retaliatory, and damaging to innocent victims and the United States' economy, as well as to world organizations," FBI Director Christopher Wray alleged.
The seven Russian named in the chargesheet are Aleksei Sergeyevich Morenets, 41, Evgenii Mikhaylovich, Serebriakov, 37, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, 32, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, 30, and Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, 27, who were each assigned to Military Unit 26165, and Oleg Mikhaylovich Sotnikov, 46, and Alexey Valerevich Minin, 46, who were also GRU officers.
The indictment alleges that defendants Yermakov, Malyshev, Badin, and unidentified conspirators, often using fictitious personas and proxy servers, researched victims, sent spearphishing emails, and compiled, used, and monitored malware command and control servers. -- PTI